A bloom of algae on Lake Erie was so massive it could be seen from space.
According to NASA Earth Observatory, in July, the severe bloom of blue-green algae began spreading across the western half of the lake.
On July 29, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported unsafe toxin concentrations in Lake Erie and advised people and their pets to stay away from areas where scum is forming on the water surface. According to NASA Earth’s Facebook post, “the dominant organism—a Microcystis cyanobacteria—produces the toxin microcystin, which can cause liver damage, numbness, dizziness, and vomiting.”
The image shared on NASA Earth’s Facebook page shows the bloom on July 30 as seen by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite.
NASA Earth says green patches show where the bloom was the most dense and where toxicity levels were unsafe for recreational activities.
According to the post, around the time the image was taken, the bloom covered about 300 square miles of Lake Erie’s surface. By August 13, the algae had spread across 620 square miles.
The huge algae bloom on Lake Erie was expected. Heavy rains that inundated the Great Lakes region this spring fueled it.
In early July, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said they expected this year’s bloom to rank among the top five since it began measuring their severity in 2002, according to their annual algae forecast for the lake.
**The Associated Press contributed to this report**