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.
Toxic Algae Is Really Messing Up Lakes And Oceans Thanks To Global Warming
Thanks to capitalist-driven consumption and the resulting destruction of the earth, global warming is making algae blooms more common and more severe. Recently, scientists discovered that there was a link between global warming and algae bloom frequency on an ocean-wide level. Worse still, the blooms are spreading. They're popping up in places they hadn't before and the results have been disastrous.
Marine Life Is Dying
Toxic algae lowers oxygen levels in natural bodies of water, which kills a lot of marine life. Algae is one of the cornerstone food sources in the ocean: smaller fish eat it, bigger predators eat them, and so on. For sea lions eating fish that have feasted on algae, this is a problem. The algae is toxic and releases a poison in the tissue of animals that become food for sea lions - as well as humans. As a result, 2017 saw more than an entire year's worth of sick sea lions treated in California in less than eight months.
An Algal Bloom Turned Lake Erie Green
In late September of 2017, satellite imagery showed that Lake Erie was turning green. Not just a part of the lake either, seemingly the whole thing was turning from blue to green. Scientists tracked the source of the change to phosphorus which runs into the lake as a byproduct of industrial activities and farming. The event is poisoning fish and other wildlife that call the lake home, emitting a foul odor, and generally looking like a nightmare.
Harmful Algal Blooms Are Explosions Of The Populations Of Tiny Plants
Red tides, which are not always red, occur when tiny organisms called algae blow up in population. Algae are one of the simplest plants in the ocean but when they are fed by nutrient rich water, they can cause a complicated problem. Rather than red tides, scientists call the event a "harmful algal bloom" and they are certainly harmful. When the algae takes over it can poison shellfish. In addition, they can cause air near the blooms to become toxic to humans and other wildlife.