All Washed Up: Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge
During the past ten years, heaps of rotting algae have piled up on some beaches of Lake Michigan. The powerful stench turns inviting beaches into wastelands. Walking is difficult, swimming is unthinkable, and mere breathing turns the stomach.
The offending plant is primarily Cladophora, a common filamentous green alga. Growing on submerged rocks, it looks like long green hair waving in the water. Cladophora is an important component of freshwater ecosystems, providing food and shelter for invertebrates and small fish. The recent excessive blooms in the Great Lakes, however, signal an ecosystem responding to both natural changes and human impacts.
Watch a video about the problem, its causes, and solutions.
All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge (Part 1)
All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge (Part 2)
All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge (short version)