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Early algal blooms alert in Kansas waters

Early algal blooms alert in Kansas waters

By Scout Nelson

Joe Gerken, a fisheries and aquatics specialist with Kansas State University, has noted an early start to the harmful algal bloom (HAB) season in Kansas this year. Typically seen in warmer months, these blooms have been spurred by recent warm weather and increased rainfall.

Blue-green algae, scientifically known as cyanobacteria, grow in warm, nutrient-rich waters. Under favorable conditions, they can quickly multiply, creating blooms that may produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.

Gerken points out that these blooms are visually identifiable, often resembling spilled green paint or pea soup on water surfaces and can emit a swampy odor when they break down.

"I have already seen harmful algal blooms in Kansas this year, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has several advisories out already," said Gerken, highlighting the urgency of the issue.

The dangers of HABs extend beyond unsightly waterways. Contact with or inhalation of toxins from these blooms can cause symptoms in humans and animals ranging from skin irritation to severe gastrointestinal distress.

These symptoms can appear within hours of exposure, underscoring the need for immediate medical attention or veterinary care if exposure is suspected.

To help reduce risks, landowners are encouraged to maintain their ponds and waterways effectively. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks offers resources on managing aquatic environments to promote healthy fish and wildlife populations.

As the season progresses, Gerken and his team continue to monitor these blooms, which are more common throughout the summer, peaking in August. The community is urged to stay informed and cautious while enjoying the Kansas waterways during these warmer months.

Photo Credit -kansas-state-university

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