Algae blobs threaten to suck up resort business in Central Oregon.Byline: INSIDE THE OUTDOORS By Mike Stahlberg The Register-Guard
In my youth, matinee movie audiences were amused by something called "The Blob," which terrorized townspeople as only a moving mountain of Jell-0 with an insatiable appetite can.
The movie "Blob" was black. But the sequel is upon us, and it's blue and green. As in the floating blobs of blue-green algae blue-green algae, popular name for those microorganisms that are now more properly called cyanobacteria. currently terrorizing resort owners at some Cascade lakes For the microbrewery, see .
The Cascade Lakes are a collection of lakes in central Oregon in the United States of America. They include Elk Lake, Hosmer Lake, Lava Lake, Cultus Lake, North and South Twin Lakes, as well as Crane Prairie Reservoir. . Crane Prairie Reservoir, Lava Lake Lava lakes are large volumes of molten lava, usually basaltic, contained in a vent, volcanic crater, or broad depression. Scientists use the term to describe both lava lakes that are molten and those that are partly or completely solidified. , Odell Lake Odell Lake can refer to:
The health advisories are based on World Health Organization guidelines concerning the number of algae cells per milliliter milliliter /mil·li·li·ter/ (mL) (-le?ter) one thousandth (10-3) of a liter.
n. Abbr. of water. Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria cyanobacteria (sī'ənōbăktĭr`ēə, sī-ăn'ō–) or blue-green algae, photosynthetic bacteria that contain chlorophyll. , are microscopic organisms that reproduce rapidly in fresh water when sunlight, temperature and nutrients combine favorably.
Some blue-green algae produce toxins or poisons that can attack the liver or nervous system.
Unfortunately, non-toxic forms of blue-green algae look exactly the same under the microscope as the toxic ones. Only specialized laboratory specialized laboratory A type of reference lab dedicated to a particular type of 'esoteric' testing–eg, allergy, coagulation, drugs–especially drugs of abuse, endocrinology, genetics, paternity, virology, etc. Cf Reference laboratory. tests - the results of which currently take at least three weeks to obtain - can distinguish toxin-producing algae from the benign varieties.
As of July 23, tests indicated that water samples taken from the east end of Odell Lake contained more than 100,000 algae cells per milliliter, enough to prompt a "Level 4" alert recommending that people (and their pets) avoid all contact with the water, including boating, wading, swimming and water skiing water skiing, sport of riding on skis along the water's surface while being towed by a motorboat. It probably originated on the French Riviera in the early 1920s, and was known in the United States by 1927. . Warnings were posted at Serenity Bay, Pebble Bay, Sunset Cove and at Odell Lake Lodge.
Water at the west end of Odell Lake and in Crane Prairie Reservoir was said to contain between 15,000 and 99,000 algae cells per milliliter - enough for a "Level 3 alert," a recommendation to avoid direct contact with water, but saying that boating is safe.
Lava Lake, Little Lava Lake and Suttle Lake were at "Level 2" - showing elevated algae counts, but not enough to warrant a health advisory. Lava and Suttle lakes had been at Level 3 in June.
The Deschutes National Forest The Deschutes National Forest is a United States National Forest located in Deschutes County, Oregon. It is comprised of 1.8 million acres (7,300 km²) along the east side of the Cascade mountains. is monitoring water quality at 13 popular lakes. Blue-green algae species are native to the Cascades, and health alerts have been issued in prior years in other forests - including at Diamond Lake, where the presence of toxin-producing varieties was confirmed in 2003.
Concern over blobs of green scum around the edges of freshwater lakes is relatively new. The World Health Organization first issued its warnings about the potential hazards of blue-green algae in 1995.
All of this is like a horror movie for lakeside business owners such as Pat Schatz of Crane Prairie Resort, who saw warnings posted just prior to the July 4 weekend.
Business plummeted, even though Forest Service scientists were quoted as saying it was still safe to go boating and eat fish caught in the reservoir.
"A lot of people don't read past the headlines," said Schatz, who doesn't buy into the algae scare.
"In my opinion, this whole thing is absolutely ridiculous," he said. "It's somebody in government trying to make sure he has a job."
In his 31 years at Craine Prairie, Schatz has seen much bigger algae blooms, with no ill effect. In the 1960s and 1970s, he said, algae got so thick "you could have gotten out of the boat and walked on it."
Through all the years he's been at Crane Prairie, Schatz said, kids swam in the water, algae or not.
"I've never heard of anybody getting sick," he said, adding he's willing to "drink a glass of my water or Lava Lake water, either one."
The worst thing about the whole blue-green algae scare, Schatz said, is that hazard warnings are posted without any evidence of toxicity. "It takes three weeks to get the report back," he said. "Three weeks!"
And then, "if your count remains high, they'll leave the warning posted while they test again."
The blue-green blob, in other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , just keeps on terrorizing.
Mike Stahlberg can be reached at email@example.com.