What can I do about a harmful algal bloom?
If you see a harmful algal bloom, there are things you can do to help.
How do I identify harmful algae?
There are many types of algae. Only some are capable of producing toxins. Several guidance documents are available to aid in the identification of algae thereby distinguishing toxic and non-toxic algae - the guides below will get you started.
Algae can be identified by microscope or by visually observing algae in the field. Note that some algae are difficult to distinguish in the field and will also require observing an algae sample under a microscope. Before you head to a potential harmful algal bloom ensure that your health and safety is protected, see this guide.
- Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP), Visual Guide to Observing Blooms
- US Geological Survey, Field and Laboratory Guide to Freshwater Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms Pages 4-15 provide photos of harmful algae and of non-harmful green algae and aquatic plants. Microscope images are also included starting page 16.
- Key to Algal Phyla/Classes of California
- Western Washington University, Freshwater Algae in Northwest Washington, Volume I, Cyanobacteria
- University of New Hampshire, PhycoKey: An Image-Based Key to Algae (PS Protista), Cyanobacteria, and other aquatic objects
- Northern Kentucky University, Field guide to algae and other “scums” in ponds, lakes, streams and rivers
How can I report a bloom, or an animal illness or human illness related to a bloom?
Reporting a harmful algal bloom or an animal or human illness associated with exposure to a bloom helps authorities understand where problems are occurring and to respond appropriately.
- Freshwater Bloom Incident Form
- Including a related animal or human illness
- bloomWatch App
- Available as a free download (Android, iOS)
- Report a red tide or other unusual marine sighting
- Bloom reporting and information
- Call: 1 (916) 341-5357
- Call toll free: 1 (844) 729-6466
- Email: CyanoHAB.Reports@waterboards.ca.gov