A harmful algae bloom (HAB) is a large growth of cyanobacteria (blue green algae) that can, at times, produce toxins. These toxins may affect the liver, nervous system and/or skin. If you touch HABs, swallow water with HAB toxins, or breathe in water droplets (from boat spray), you could get a rash, have an allergic reaction, get a stomach ache, or feel dizzy or light-headed. HABs are also toxic to pets and have led to numerous dog deaths.
While time on the water is typically, safe, caution should be exercised, especially during summer monthes. Always look for HABs before going in the water. Check for HAB advisories here or ask the park manager if there has been a recent HAB because colorless toxins can still be in water. Stonelick and Harsha Lakes have both had HABs at some point. HABs have different colors and looks. Some blooms are green, blue-green, white, purple, red and black. They can look like film crust or puff balls at the surface. They also may look like grass clippings or dots in the water. Some HABs look like spilled paint, pea soup, foam, wool, streaks, or green cottage cheese curd.
What should you do if you see a HAB?
· Stay out of water that may have a HAB
· Do not let your children or pets play in HAB debris on the shore
· After swimming or wading in lake water, even where no HABs are visible, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible. This goes for pets too, as they tend to lick wet fur and can ingest toxins.
· Never swallow any lake or river water whether you see HABs or not
· Do not drink or cook with lake water
· Wash your hands before eating if you have made contact with lake water
· See a doctor if you or your children might be ill from HAB toxins. If you pet appears ill, contact your veterinarian.
· If you plan to eat the fish you catch from a possible HAB infested water, remove the guts and liver, and rinse the fillets in tap water before eating