By Sarah Elmquist Squires
While Gwyneth Paltrow might have some colorful goop to sell, this green (or brown or blue-green) gunk is to be avoided at all costs. The harmful cyanobacteria bloom (HCB) has been found at high density in Ocean Lake, and Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a warning.
HCBs can appear like a frothy layer at the surface of bodies of water, and may be harmful to people, livestock, and pets. It’s commonly referred to as “blue-green algae” because it looks like it.
Cyanobacteria is normally present in bodies of water, but when it “blooms” into high density, it poses a risk. The DEQ monitors for the presence of the stuff in Wyoming waterways, and when it confirms cell densities exceed 20,000 cells/mL based on photos, a positive jar test, and satellite imagery when available, it offers an advisory. For Ocean Lake’s Long Point Ramp, such a warning was issued last week.
“Cyanobacteria can produce toxins and other irritants that can cause several health effects in people and animals, including pets and livestock,” DEQ advises. “Health effects include rashes, itching, numbness, fatigue, disorientation, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, cyanotoxins may lead to wildlife, pet, or livestock death.” HCBs may also cause fish kills because of the loss of oxygen levels in the water, and may also impact drinking water supplies.
Avoid swimming in HBC advisory areas, and be sure to keep pets and livestock away.
For more information on HCBs, visit https://deq.wyoming.gov/harmful-cyanobacterial-blooms/#:~:text=Why%20are%20cyanobacterial%20blooms%20harmful,pain%2C%20vomiting%2C%20and%20diarrhea.