Weird Nature

Record Numbers Of Toxic Algae Blooms Are Creating A Dangerous Wasteland For Wildlife

Toxic algae blooms sound as bad as they are. What is even more troubling, however, is that climate change is one reason why toxic algae is such a big problem. With warmer water keeping everything nice and cozy for algae they are able to grow more rapidly. Algae may seem harmless, after all they are just plants, but a harmful algal bloom, as scientists call the phenomena, is extremely harmful for wildlife. Aside from killing fish, algae blooms can make shellfish poisonous for humans and other animals like sea lions that consume them. 

Algae blooms aren't going away anytime soon. They are extremely hard to treat; in fact, there's an entire area of the Mississippi River that is called a "dead zone" because the plants have made it almost impossible for anything to live in part of the waterway. The disaster isn't limited to the Mississippi though; in September 2017 an algae bloom in Lake Erie suddenly appeared and rapidly spread. Florida deals with the "red tide" for months at a time, a period when the corpses of fish, sea turtles, manatees, and even whale sharks wash up on the shore, creating a rust-colored health hazard to sea life and humans alike. In the end, between climate change and the overuse of nutrients used in farming, humans can only blame ourselves for what a problem algae blooms have become.