NYSG Says Enjoy the Water this Summer and Keep Yourself and Your Pets Safe from Harmful Algal Blooms
Harmful Algal Blooms - Press Release

Enjoy New York’s Lakes and Rivers, But Be Alert to Harmful Algal Blooms


Jesse Lepak, New York Sea Grant Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist, E: jml78@cornell.edu, P: 315.312.3042

Kara Lynn Dunn, NYSG Great Lakes Publicist, E: karalynn@gisco.net, P: 315.465.7578

Ithaca, NY, June 17, 2019 - Enjoying activities in New York’s many lakes and rivers is an excellent way to spend the summer.  New York Sea Grant is reminding those that do to be informed about harmful algal blooms (HABs), how to avoid exposure of oneself and pets, and where to report potential HABs.
“Not all algal blooms are harmful,” says Jesse Lepak, Ph.D., Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist with New York Sea Grant, “but some dense populations of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can produce toxins that can have serious effects on liver, nervous system, and skin of humans and their pets.”
Toxic HABs can develop in less than 24 hours, so pet owners are encouraged to avoid exposure to potential HABs which are often blue-green, but can also appear red, brown, or white.  Blooms can look like spilled paint, pea soup, foam, scum or floating mats.
The ingestion of HAB toxins can cause drooling, tremors, and seizures in dogs. Owners should take animals that have been exposed to HABs immediately to a veterinarian.

Learn more in NYSG's "Dogs and HABs" informational brochure (pdf).

Also, here are a few recent radio and video clips explaining more about HAB:

In early June 2018, Lepak spoke with  Finger Lakes Morning News to remind its listeners of some safety precautions when taking their dogs to the water. He said if you do, make sure your canine avoids HABs that contain harmful, and even deadly, toxins.

If you don't see the player above, it's because you're using a non-Flash device (eg, iPhone or iPad). You can download the mp3 file by clicking here (mp3). It may take a few minutes to download, so please be patient.

Lepak described what you should do if your dog dives into an algal bloom.

If you don't see the player above, it's because you're using a non-Flash device (eg, iPhone or iPad). You can download the mp3 file by clicking here (mp3). It may take a few minutes to download, so please be patient.

In the above late September 2017 video clip from WKBW, Buffalo's ABC TV-affilate, "Not all blue-green algae is toxic," Dr. Greg Boyer, a biochemistry professor at SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry (who has often received NYSG funding for his research projects), said blue-green algae wasn't anything new, but that it was on the rise.

In the above late July 2017 video clip from Syracuse-based WSYR-TV News Channel 9, "Blue-green algae blooms can be deadly for pets," you'll find a mention of a partnership between NYSG and New York State Parks to educate the public on the dangers blue-green algae pose when consumed by pets.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) maintains a website with information and updates on Harmful Algal Blooms. The NYSDEC provides instructions for reporting a potential bloom if you see one and notifications of HABs. Dubbed "NYHABS," the reporting system features an interactive map that is updated daily with reports of HABs, as well as a new public reporting form.

Here's more information on NYS Department of Health's (NYSDOH) blue-green algae and health information, "Know it, Avoid it, Report it."

More Information:

Tips for reducing companion animal exposure to HABs include:

• keep animals out of water with a potential HAB
• do not let pets eat plants or debris along shorelines
• thoroughly wash animals if they have been swimming in water where blooms are visible to prevent the ingestion of any toxins from cleaning their fur.

New York Sea Grant initiated this HABs-related public education outreach to pet owners in 2014 with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research.
For more information on HABs from New York Sea Grant visit www.nyseagrant.org/habs.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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