MI Officials Warning Residents of Harmful Algal Blooms in Some Bodies of Water

A harmful algal bloom. (Photo via EGLE)

By Karel Vega

August 14, 2023

Harmful algal blooms can cause illnesses in people and animals.

Watch where you wade!

Michigan officials are warning residents living near or visiting bodies of water to be aware of harmful algal blooms.

What are harmful algal blooms? Essentially, they come from naturally occurring organisms in bodies of water called cyanobacteria. Some cyanobacteria can make people and animals sick. When conditions are right, the organisms rapidly increase to create these harmful algal blooms.

Breathing in or swallowing water with these toxins can cause illnesses from as mild as runny eyes to severe sickness that has led to animal death.

These blooms can spread rapidly and last for weeks. They typically occur from May to October and most often in August and September.

What should you look out for? According to the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services, harmful algal blooms are often green. Still, they can be other colors and appear as different textures, like spilled paint, scums, streaks, mats, or discoloration of the water with algae.

These blooms were reported in 80 water bodies in 38 Michigan counties last year.

People who had contact with or swallowed water with a suspected harmful algal bloom should seek medical attention if they begin to feel sick.

If you suspect an algal bloom, you should report the find to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy by e-mailing [email protected] with pictures of the suspected bloom. Residents can also call 800-662-9278 to make a report.

For more information, including a map of known algal blooms, visit: Michigan.gov/habs


  • Karel Vega

    Coming from a long background in public radio, Karel Vega strives to find stories that inform and inspire local communities. Before joining The ‘Gander, Karel served as managing editor at WKAR, the NPR affiliate in East Lansing, Michigan.

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