Posted by: Vicki Burns | October 1, 2012

Late Season Algae Still Poses Threat

Here is a picture of blue-green algae which washed up on a beach near Gimli on Lake Winnipeg, just a couple of days ago. Its unlikely that any humans will be swimming in the water this late in the season but if you look closely you’ll see a dog standing right at the edge of the water. Its so dangerous for dogs to go in water with blue-green algae because they lick their fur when they come out, thereby ingesting possible toxins in the algae. This year I’ve noticed many more warnings of the risks to dogs throughout North America and across the Atlantic in Britain as well. There have been several dog deaths reported in the States this year.

image of dog standing on beach at edge of blue-green algae covered water

Blue-green algae Gimli, Lake Winnipeg Sept. 2012 photo credit Emery Gal

Just today I saw this news clip from New York State that is warning of the health hazards of exposure to blue-green algae. In this report they are saying that this year there have been 100 cases of human illness related to exposure to the algae. Dr. Jeffrey Reutter of Ohio State University is quoted as saying there will be human death soon if we don’t somehow slow the growth of this toxic algae. I don’t like to be a fear mongerer but I do think we need to pay serious attention to the increased warnings we’re seeing all over the world about the threats to human and animal health as well as to the aquatic life due to exposure to large amounts of blue-green algae.

In Lake Winnipeg, we are fortunate that so far the level of the toxin microcystin which is found in some blue-green algae, is not above the safe guidelines very often. When it is above the recommended safety guidelines the government posts notices on their website and on the beaches (if it is an area they routinely check).

At Lake of the Woods in the Kenora Ontario area, their public health officials have been issuing public notices advising people how to identify blue-green algae. They are offering to come out to check the water in any area where it is suspected to be the toxic algae. The point I’m really trying to make is that we should get moving much faster to decrease what is causing these algae blooms, the flow of phosphorus and nitrogen into our waterways. We do have some ideas about how to do this but it will require money and political will to get it done.



  1. whoah this weblog is great i really like studying your posts. Stay up the good work! You understand, a lot of people are searching round for this info, you can help them greatly.

  2. Hi Vicki…….long time no see.. you are doing a good job on this issue. I actually saw just this algae a few questions days at our Grondstone cottage on L Winnipeg across from Hecla this last weekend. Several people were
    letting their children still go in the water.
    . No information on any boards for knowledge!

    We went out to have a row in our small sail boat, but we didn’t stay out even in the light waves and wind was taking us off shore .
    No sign of zebra mussels locally on our area which was surprising.

    Keep up the info…..Thanks. Mo

    • Thanks for your message Mo. I don’t think officials are taking this issue seriously enough here. I hope that changes!

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