The warmer months of the year bring about many exciting things. To most, summer represents a time to gather at barbeques and spend weekends by the lake. However, these warmer climates are giving rise to another less desirable consequence: toxic algae.
Household pets are falling victim
Toxic blue algae are beginning to make headlines across the country. Blooming in waters in all 50 states, cyanobacteria are killing household pets from California to New York.
This summer, dozens of stories covered innocent outings with pet owners and their dogs. All begin with a simple swim in contaminated water. Much of the time, these bodies of water appear to have bluish-green scum on its surface or around the edges.
If noticed by officials, official warning signs are placed along the edges of these areas. However, unlucky owners either fail to recognize the postings or are the first to find out about the harmful conditions. Unfortunately, many do not realize the mistake until it is too late.
Dogs are being hospitalized left and right, all with a similar set of symptoms that appear anywhere from 15 minutes to several days after exposure. Many report effects such as seizing, diarrhea, vomiting, foaming at the mouth, and ultimately death.
The earliest reports of blue-green algae poisoning in dogs go back all the way to the 1920s. However, in recent years, there seems to be an increasing number of fatalities. As a result, many have come to the conclusion that the rising temperatures from climate change are driving this trend.
Climate Change’s Role In Algal Blooms
Warmer Climates Lead To Warmer Waters
Blue-green algae thrive in warm bodies of water. As increasing temperatures create an environment for cyanobacteria to thrive in, algal blooms are appearing at a faster rate than ever before. While the algae absorb a large quantity of sunlight, the waters continue to rise, creating an endless cycle that promotes more blooms. With these supporting conditions, algae are able to grow thicker and spread at a dangerous pace.
The Need for Carbon Dioxide
Much like plants, blue-green algae are photosynthetic. This means the cyanobacteria utilize sunlight, water, and CO2 to synthesize its own food. There is no doubt that there is an excess of carbon emissions within the atmosphere due to human activity. As a result, the toxic algae are continuously provided the necessary nutrients in order to survive and reproduce.
Rising Sea Levels Providing Homes For Blue-Green Algae
Due to increasing global temperatures, sea levels are rising at an unprecedented rate. With waters rising with each passing year, shallow and stable waters are being shaped along coastlines. Providing living conditions that are ideal for algae, there is a possibility of seeing large amounts of blooms in these areas.
As algal blooming occurs primarily in the warmer months of the year, many hope to see the season slowing down as the temperatures begin to cool. However, with climate change, a question arises: When will the cooling months come?
In recent years, there seems to be an extremity in environmental conditions. With constant increases in global temperatures, there is a risk that the algal blooms will linger much longer than wanted. With this, comes a risk for more canine deaths as well.
Many are saying that it is important to prevent dogs from entering toxic waters in the first place. However, perhaps the public should strive to prevent the promotion of ideal living for dangerous algae instead.