Winter Algae Bloom Blankets Our Creeks
Published: May 9, 2022
Yuck … Our Water Quality (WQ) Monitoring teams discovered that our creeks are infested with this thick winter algae that blankets the bottom of most creeks in the Severn River.
Just about everywhere we dropped the anchor during our WQ tours in April, this stuff comes up.
And it is yucky.
As WQ Crew member Lisa Cuba describes it, “it feels just like the hair stuck in a shower drain.”
We’re discovering this widespread algae bloom because we start our river-wide, 52-station monitoring program in April – while the water is cold – before the surface-based algae blooms reveal themselves when the water gets a bit warmer.
This winter algae was found in all the Whitehall Bay Creeks, inside the mid-river creeks, and all the way to our headwaters WQ station at Indian Landing.
This algae thrives in winter when the water temperatures are around 10 to 12 degrees Celsius or colder (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit).
We’d never know it was there except that it comes up with our anchor on cold April days when SRA starts its WQ monitoring season.
It was virtually everywhere, especially inside the creeks, presumably feeding on nutrient pollution that comes in with stormwater runoff.
Fortunately, the algae is not on our oyster restoration reefs between the Rt. 50 and USNA Bridges.
This algae retreats as the water warms up.
By May 5, when water temperatures were in the 15- to 18-degree Celsius range, range (roughly 60- to 65-degrees Fahrenheit), there was just a last hint of the algae remaining on the bottom of Mill Creek Station 1 when Field Investigator Jack Beckham (see pic a left) raised anchor.
None of the other stations we visited May 5 in Mill Creek, Burley, Whitehall, Ridout, Meredith and Martin’s Cove revealed any of this algae.
Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of this for the season.