The kind of toxic algae that forms each summer on Lake Erie and other lakes around Ohio feeds on phosphorus, a key element of livestock manure and sewage. Much of the phosphorus that gets into the lake comes from the Maumee River, which flows through eastern Indiana and western Ohio, depositing its waters into the western part of Lake Erie near Toledo.
Manure and sewage wash from soil and into the rivers and streams that feed the Maumee. More rains mean more runoff.
“This El Nino is building up to be quite a doozy, but we also have a series of other changes going on,” said Steve Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University. “We are having changes in wind patterns, changes in upwellings along the coast. It’s like your whole basic ecosystem is being shifted around in different ways.”
“From a scientific standpoint it’s fascinating,” Odell says. “From a sea life and human health view point, it’s pretty scary. Because it’s so big and it’s so toxic and it’s not really giving sea life a chance.”
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