19 Stories

Green Scum Coated the Lake—and Could Have Killed Him

The AP investigates why our efforts to combat toxic algae are failing

(Newser) - Competing in a bass fishing tournament two years ago, Todd Steele cast his rod from his 21-foot motorboat—unaware that he was being poisoned. A thick, green scum coated western Lake Erie. And Steele, a semipro angler, was sickened by it. Driving home to Port Huron, Michigan, he felt lightheaded,... More »

Experts 'Despondent' Over Great Barrier Reef

Only a third remains undamaged after back-to-back bleaching episodes

(Newser) - This time there's no El Niño to blame for the Great Barrier Reef "cooking and dying," as CNN puts it. Thanks to two years of back-to-back "bleaching" (algae loss) that researcher James Kerry tells the BBC is "unprecedented," two-thirds of the world's... More »

A Drink Is Making People Sick, and Algae Might Be Why

The latest dispatch from the Soylent saga

(Newser) - Over the past several months, a tiny fraction of consumers of a meal replacement powder and energy bar put out by the company Soylent have complained of pretty adverse digestive reactions , including vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea. Since 2013 the Silicon Valley startup has been producing its nutrient-dense, just-add-water powder—"... More »

In Algae, a Key to White Cliffs of Dover

They could in theory be replicated in the Antarctic—in millions of years

(Newser) - Had William Shakespeare had a chance to peruse a new study, he might have praised nitrate for the dizzying view from atop the White Cliffs of Dover. That’s because the tiny algae, known as coccolithophores, which helped form the famous cliffs some 100 million years ago benefited from a... More »

Rio Promises Blue Water, but Odd Green May Be Spreading

First the diving pool, now the water polo pool

(Newser) - If you happened to tune into a diving event Tuesday, you probably noticed the pool at Rio's outdoor aquatics center was "as green as split-pea soup," as the National Post puts it—or "close to the color swatch movie set designers turn to when they want... More »

'Guacamole-Thick' Algae Causes Florida Emergency

'The smell is so bad it will make you gag,' one local resident says

(Newser) - Beaches are closed in South Florida, where a massive algae bloom has caused water to turn bright green and Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in four counties—Martin, St. Lucie, Lee, and Palm Beach—over Wednesday and Thursday, reports . Health officials are telling people... More »

Huge Toxic Algae Bloom Bigger Than Feared in May

It's 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep

(Newser) - A massive toxic algae bloom first detected in May is denser, deeper, and more widespread than scientists feared as recently as a few weeks ago, report surveyors aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel. As many as 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep, it stretches at least... More »

Beautiful but Toxic 'Sea Sparkle' on the Rise

'Magnificent' sight caused by farm pollution

(Newser) - Eerie fluorescent blue patches of water seen glimmering off Hong Kong's seashore are magnificent, disturbing, and potentially toxic, marine biologists say. The glow is an indicator of a harmful algal bloom created by something called Noctiluca scintillans, nicknamed "Sea Sparkle." It looks like algae and can act... More »

Hidden Virus Makes Us Dumber

Study: People with chlorovirus ATCV-1 score lower on cognitive tests

(Newser) - US researchers have come across a virus that may make us dumber—and it's turning up in the throats of otherwise-healthy people, the Independent reports. Some 43% of 92 people in a study were found to have the virus. Those affected scored about 10% lower on tests involving visual... More »

Gulf's Dead Zone Is the Size of Connecticut

Activists sue EPA to get stricter regulations

(Newser) - A Connecticut-sized swath of oxygen-deprived waters off the Gulf Coast is a "poster child for how we are using and abusing our natural resources," says one researcher in Louisiana. In its 30th annual survey, the Louisiana Marine Consortium shows the dead zone has shrunk to about 5,000... More »

Toxic Water Actually 'So Routine' in Ohio

Pollution, invasive species, and climate change have all been blamed

(Newser) - Tap water has been declared safe to drink and bathe in again in Toledo, Ohio, but scientists warn that toxic algae blooms could be here to stay. Fertilizer from farms and cattle feedlots are partly to blame for the thick layer of algae choking Lake Erie, the most developed of... More »

Florida Manatees Dying in Scary Numbers

Deaths near Cape Canaveral remain a mystery

(Newser) - Already an endangered species, manatees are dying by the dozen off both coasts of Florida, Wired reports. Biologists say a red tide—an algal bloom that can be fatal to manatees, fish, and people—has killed 200 manatees in the Gulf of Mexico this year. But manatee deaths on the... More »

California Drivers First to Test Algae Fuel

It's 80% petroleum and 20% algae

(Newser) - Drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area have become the first motorists in the nation to fill up their gas tanks with an algae-based biofuel . The fuel, known as Biodiesel B20, went on sale yesterday at gas stations in Berkeley, Oakland, Redwood City, and San Jose as part of a... More »

To Fight Climate Change, Dump Iron in Water?

Old theory gains traction following experiments

(Newser) - Algae growing around Antarctica is short on iron. For decades, scientists have theorized that iron dumped in the oceans there could help fertilize the algae—and that algae could in turn absorb carbon dioxide, thus battling global warming. While tests have shown that iron can, in fact, fuel algae blooms,... More »

Huge Algae Blooms Found ... Under Arctic?

Discovery stuns scientists who figured it couldn't grow under ice

(Newser) - Scientists studying algae for NASA have discovered it in the most unusual of places: beneath the Arctic ice, reports AFP . What's more, there's a lot of it, defying the conventional belief that it couldn't grow there because there was too little light. The discovery, outlined in the... More »

Algae Devouring Baltic

Country-sized growth threatens marine life

(Newser) - Record-breaking temperatures combined with farm run-off have caused an evil-smelling algae bloom the size of Germany to sprout in the Baltic Sea. The World Wildlife Fund warns that the algae explosion—the biggest in the region since 2005—endangers human as well as marine life, the Independent reports. The group... More »

Exxon to Invest $600M in Algae-Based Fuel

Will partner with famed genome expert Craig Venter

(Newser) - Exxon Mobil, the biggest oil company in the world, will invest $600 million in turning algae into fuel, the New York Times reports. Known for blowing off concerns about global warming and dismissing biofuels—its CEO famously called ethanol “moonshine”—Exxon Mobil has in fact been researching alternative... More »

The Next Great Biofuel: Pond Scum

(Newser) - It’s as slimy as it is unassuming, but algae could be the stuff the next great biofuel is made of. The simple organisms convert solar energy into an oily material that could, theoretically, be processed into a biofuel to power a car. But there are untold varieties of algae... More »

Zoo's Polar Bears Go Green

Bear pond algae stains fur

(Newser) - Polar bears at a Japanese zoo are turning green, AP reports. Visitors to Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya are stunned by big green patches on the bears' fur, caused by algae. The algae was picked up by swimming in the bear pond and is now growing deep within... More »

19 Stories