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Utah APPLETREE Program

 

Identify Harmful Algal Blooms

 

Blue-Green Algal Blooms (Toxic) | Green Algal Blooms (Non-Toxic)

 

It can be difficult to tell a harmful algal bloom caused by cyanobacteria (a.k.a. blue-green algae) from formations of non-toxic true algae. There are many different types of blue-green algae, and some can resemble non-harmful green algae. The photographs below may help you identify harmful algal blooms.

To be safe, UDOH recommends avoiding contact with any scums, mats, or discolored water. If you think you have seen a harmful algal bloom, call UDEQ's 24-hour Spill Line at (801) 536-4123.


Blue-Green Algal Blooms (Potentially Toxic) | Top

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may form mats or scums on the water surface. Utah Lake during a bloom in July 2106. Image from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may form mats or scums on the water surface. Utah Lake during a bloom in October 2014. Image from the Utah County Health Department.

 

Utah Lake HAB 2016

Scum from blue-green algal blooms can wash ashore due to wind and waves and accumulate on beaches. Lincoln Beach at Utah Lake during a bloom in July 2016. Image from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal bloom in Utah Lake, October 2014. Image from the Utah County Health Department.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may make the water look like pea soup. Utah Lake during a bloom in October 2014. Image from the Utah County Health Department.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may make the water look like pea soup. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may look like blue, green, or white spilled paint on the water surface. Utah Lake during a bloom in October 2014. Image from the Utah County Health Department.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may look like blue, green, or white spilled paint on the water surface. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may look like parallel streaks on the water surface, often green. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may look like parallel streaks on the water surface, often green. Image from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Blue-green algae bloom

Blue-green harmful algal blooms may look like green dots or blobs in or on the water. Image from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.


Green Algal Blooms (Non-Toxic) | Top

Green algae

Green algae can look like floating rafts on the water, but do not produce harmful toxins. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Green algae

Green algae can look like bubbling scum on the water and may be entangled with other plant material, but do not produce harmful toxins. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Green algae

Green algae can look silky, hairy, or like wet fabric on the rocks, plants, or water surface, but do not produce harmful toxins. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Green algae

Green algae can look stringy or hairy or like a tumbleweed in the water or on the lake bottom, but do not produce harmful toxins. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Green algae

Green algae can form thick mats on the water surface, but do not produce harmful toxins. Image from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

Green algae

Green algae can form thick mats on the water surface, but do not produce harmful toxins. Image from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Duckweed

Although duckweed can cover the water surface, it is not algae and does not produce harmful toxins. It is a tiny aquatic plant with a grainy texture that looks like a miniature lilypad. Image from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.