Stay Smart about Algal Blooms in 2018
Harmful Algal Blooms - Press Release

New York, Pennsylvania, Lake Champlain Sea Grant Programs, New York State Parks Providing Education to Pet Owners


Jesse Lepak, Ph.D., New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist, E:, P: 315-312-3042

Kara Lynn Dunn, NYSG Great Lakes Publicist, E:, P: 315-465-7578

Oswego, NY, June 4, 2018 - New York Sea Grant is partnering with the Pennsylvania and Lake Champlain Sea Grant programs and New York State Parks to remind dog owners to enjoy the water this summer, but remember to stay smart, safe, and informed about algal blooms and their impact on people and pets.
“Harmful algal blooms, also known as HABs, are dense populations of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. Not all blooms are harmful, but some algal blooms can produce toxins that affect the liver, nervous system, and skin of humans and their pets,” says Jesse Lepak, Ph.D., Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist with New York Sea Grant.
Dog deaths suspected as a result of harmful algal blooms prompted New York Sea Grant to develop a Dogs and HABs informational brochure in 2014. The brochure, updated in 2017, is downloadable in the "Related Links" section of this page. Also, July 2017's NYSG "Dogs and HABs" news item includes additional information via video clips.
In 2018, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation enters its second year of making the brochure available at information kiosks in parks across the state. Lake Champlain Sea Grant has adapted the brochure for use in Vermont.
Partners in the Pennsylvania Lake Erie HAB Task Force intend to use the brochure as part of ongoing outreach in northwest Pennsylvania. A Task Force member, the Regional Science Consortium at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle, PA, will include the brochure as part of its new Mobile HAB Lab project.
Toxic HABs can develop in less than 24 hours, which can be faster than testing for toxins can be completed.
Noted algal bloom researcher Dr. Gregory L. Boyer, Ph.D, of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, comments, “While it is very difficult to prove that animals died from ingestion of blue-green algal toxins, pet owners can take steps to reduce their dogs’ exposure to those toxins. Be diligent about keeping animals out of the scums when algal blooms are present and not letting them eat beach wrack. If the dogs swim in water where blooms are visible, they should be thoroughly washed off immediately to prevent the ingestion of toxins from cleaning their fur.”
Dr. Karyn Bischoff, a toxicologist with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY, advises, “Prevention is the best protection for domestic animals. The most severe effects of HABs are from ingestion. The clinical signs depend on the toxins present in the HAB. Neurotoxins can cause immediate effects, including drooling, tremors, and seizures; hepatotoxins can destroy the liver. Both can be rapidly lethal. Animals that have been exposed should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Time is of the essence in these cases.”
In addition to Boyer and Bischoff, those assisting New York Sea Grant with development of the Dogs and HABs brochure included the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, US Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA National Ocean Service, Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and Sea Grant Network colleagues.
In 2017, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation listed more than 100 potentially harmful algal blooms in waters across the state. The number of HABs has been increasing such that NY Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a $65 million initiative to combat HABs.

Above Left: New York Sea Grant Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms brochure cover. Center: cover dog Walter: photo courtesy of Maxine Appleby. Right: Lake Champlain Sea Grant, Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms brochure cover.

More Info: Sea Grant's Project Partners

  • New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. More Info >>

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Harmful Algal Blooms Notification Page. More Info >>
  • Lake Champlain Sea Grant develops and supports research, outreach and education programs to empower communities, businesses, and other stakeholders in the Lake Champlain Basin to make informed decisions regarding the management, conservation, utilization, and restoration of their aquatic resources for long-term environmental health and sustainable economic development. More Info >>
  • Pennsylvania Lake Erie HAB Task Force members include lead organizer: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, the Regional Science Consortium, Erie County Conservation District, Erie County Department of Health, Erie Water Works, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat, the Natural History Museum at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. More Info >>


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: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via 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,

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