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Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae)

  • blue green algae
    Film on surface of water from blue-green algae can look like spilled paint
  • blue green algae
    Thick green foam may wash ashore during a bloom
  • blue green algae
    Blue-green algae may make the water look cloudy with a green tint
  • blue green algae
    Blue-green algae may make the water look like pea soup

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are naturally found in many freshwater ecosystems. A combination of excess nutrients, sunlight, and high temperatures can lead to a rapid increase in cyanobacteria, called a “bloom.” Blooms of cyanobacteria generally occur in late summer into the early fall when water temperatures are warmest and an abundance of sunlight and nutrients are available. Some species of cyanobacteria can also produce toxins. These toxins are harmful to people and pets. There are no visual properties of a cyanobacteria bloom that indicate the algae are producing toxins. It is only possible to determine if toxins are present with laboratory tests. If a cyanobacteria bloom is observed, it is best to take caution and stay out of the water to avoid any potential exposure to toxins.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) work cooperatively to detect/respond to the presence of cyanobacteria blooms, evaluate the potential risks to the public, and, when necessary, issue health advisories notifying the public of health concerns. The agencies jointly issue health/recreational advisories when conditions indicate a cyanobacteria bloom poses a risk to public health.

Current Advisories
Past Advisories

RESOURCES

 

Report A Bloom

If you think you've discovered a blue green algae bloom please us to let us know.

Report A Bloom

Click here for more information from RIDOH on cyanobacteria blooms.

Contact
Office of Water Resources
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908-5767
Phone: (401) 222-3961
Fax: (401) 222-3564