Growth of blue-green algae across Nova Scotia a concern: Dal AC prof

[Canada] Nguyen-Quang, a professor of engineering at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, has been researching cyanobacteria blooms – blue-green algae – in Nova Scotia for several years. Lately, results based on research last summer have become more worrisome.

Dr. Tri Nguyen-Quang, an assistant professor and researcher at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, uses some dye to preserve some of a cyanobacteria bloom, or blue-green algae, found last summer in a lake in Nova Scotia. The growth of the blooms continues to concern the researcher.
Dr. Tri Nguyen-Quang, an assistant professor and researcher at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, uses some dye to preserve some of a cyanobacteria bloom, or blue-green algae, found last summer in a lake in Nova Scotia. The growth of the blooms continues to concern the researcher.

“It’s blooming everywhere,” said Nguyen-Quang. “We looked at three or four lakes in Nova Scotia. In Mattatall Lake, there were a lot of blooms, some are persisting until December.”

Nguyen-Quang and his team also visited Lake Torment in Kings County and Sherbrooke Lake in Lunenburg County There, blooms were small and lasted until about the beginning of September.

Nguyen-Quan has studied algae blooms in western Nova Scotia at Lake Torment and Sherbrooke Lake.
Nguyen-Quan has studied algae blooms in western Nova Scotia at Lake Torment and Sherbrooke Lake.

“It’s a very interesting phenomenon. In other places, blooms stop usually in August to September – the latest blooms found were in November (in New Brunswick). But in Mattatall Lake, blooms have been found in winter and some even in January. They’re co-habiting with the ice.”

A major concern is how things will progress this summer.

“Cyanobacteria blooms are unpredictable. We want to sensitize people in all scales to the issue. With global warming and high eutrophication, the situation is going to get worse and worse, and this summer could have many unstable scenarios due to the El Niño cycle.”

Mattatall Lake in northern Nova Scotia is shown with green water last summer, thanks to cyanobacteria blooms
Mattatall Lake in northern Nova Scotia is shown with green water last summer, thanks to cyanobacteria blooms

Eutrophication is when the environment becomes enriched with nutrients, such as those containing nitrogen and phosphorous; eutrophication encourages algae growth, or algae bloom.

Most of the blooms Nguyen-Quang and his team found are of toxic species. According to literary reviews, the researcher says, they can affect humans’ neurological and digestive systems, as well as those of animals. Drinking water has to be a major consideration, especially when there is no schematic study pertaining to blooms in Nova Scotia.

With around 3,000 lakes throughout Nova Scotia, Nguyen-Quang and his team can’t visit each annually to track cyanobacteria blooms, so the researcher hopes to see the creation of a lakes association.

Dalhousie Agricultural Campus’s Dr. Tri Nguyen-Quang points to some marks depicting where cyanobacteria blooms were found last summer in Mattatall Lake. The blooms at the lake, he said have stayed alive until at least December, but often into January. In other parts of the world, blooms last until September, with the latest being found in November
Dalhousie Agricultural Campus’s Dr. Tri Nguyen-Quang points to some marks depicting where cyanobacteria blooms were found last summer in Mattatall Lake. The blooms at the lake, he said have stayed alive until at least December, but often into January. In other parts of the world, blooms last until September, with the latest being found in November

“If we had a big association, there are many things we could do – share information, get involved with the government and ask for funding. It’s worked very well in New Brunswick,” he said. “I think so far, that’s the best solution. We need collaboration from different scales, especially government. If not, we have a problem and we’ll never have an end.”

The blooms in Nova Scotia have mostly been green. Around the world, they could be also be red.

“In Mattatall Lake, in some bloom episodes they were brown – they were dying, too. But when the lake turns green, that’s a problem,” he said.

Anyone finding cyanobacteria blooms, or any algae they aren’t familiar with, can contact Dr. Tri Nguyen-Quang. Two of the lakes his team visited last summer were at the request of an area resident.

 

Photo: Cyanobacteria blooms, or blue-green algae, has been the focus of Dr. Tri Nguyen-Quang’s research at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus for the past few years. The problem is growing, says Nguyen-Quang, who has seen the blooms well into January in some places.

View original article at: Growth of blue-green algae across Nova Scotia a concern: Dal AC prof

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