Algal blooms spotted on lake, possibly due to hot temperatures

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - People in West End near the lake are noticing a bright algal blooms surrounding docked boats. Experts say it may be due to the hot weather this week.

"Once the water got warm, yesterday when I came back to work it looked like maybe the whole pen was painted green, you know all the water. It was dark, dark green," said Steve Sintes, who works at a boat repair shop along Orleans Marina.

Sintes said as the day went on and it got hotter, the algae changed colors.

"It turned the green, the blue that you see now, and eventually, what happens is it will turn white, and when it turns white, the fish start dying," Sintes said.

Brady Skaggs with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation said the blooms often appear when the temperature rises.

"Whenever we have beautiful days like we have today where it's nice warm temperature, lots of extra sunshine, that's great growing conditions for algae," Skaggs said.

He said the foundation recently got new technology to monitor the density and location of the algae.

"One of the new tools that we've gotten the opportunity to do is to review some of the satellite information data, and that satellite information helps us take a more targeted approach. So we're able to go out and locate areas that may be of concern," Skaggs said.

Skaggs said collecting that information costs about $2,000 per test, but he said it's important.

"One of the things that we've been exploring is whether or not we do have harmful algal bloom presence. We haven't noticed anything in our samples we've collected to date," Skaggs said.

He said you can't tell whether algae is toxic by just looking at it, but one of the indicators is if there's a musty odor.

Once the blooms die, Skaggs said that's when boaters may see fish kills.

"Sometimes when it happens, thousands. It's so bad it kind of reminds me of old bombed out cities because the buildings start turning yellow and the sides of the boat start turning yellow and gray like the decay of fish," Sintes said.

Sintes said he normally sees algae every year at the marina.

"This year, I noticed it a lot earlier. Like I said, on Christmastime on a warm day we started seeing the water turn green, so I knew it was going to be bad come May," Sintes said.

Skaggs said he's gotten several reports of the blue and green algae by Orleans Marina, and will look into whether it is toxic.

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