Friday, September 20, 2013

What's it all about, algae?

Green scum interfered with yesterday's kayaking plans.

We’d decided to put our boats in at East Devil’s Lake, a day-use area with a marina just a couple of miles from our campground in Lincoln City, Oregon.  Both the campground brochure and the camp hosts here recommended it.

Posted at the marina was some information about e coli testing (the marina had passed the local water improvement district’s e coli requirements 16 our of 17 time this summer, which the sign indicated was a moderate e coli exposure risk) and a sign about blue green algae.  

Blue green algae exists everywhere -- even in Antarctica and in deserts, I read.  But in both fresh water and salt water, and under certain conditions (including lots of light, warm temperatures, nutrients), it can “bloom” and look like scum or even paint.  The sign at the marina said you can’t tell by looking at the bloom if it’s toxic or not.  To know that, the water has to be tested.  And per the sign “blue green algae and their toxins have recently been fond in this section of Devil’s Lake.”  Among suggestions, the sign said to “avoid areas of scum when boating”

The scum was so thick at the shore of East Devil's Lake marina, that we’d be standing right in it if we put in the boats.  So we drove to west side of the lake to Regatta Grounds, which was low risk for e coli but also had the blue alga poster, and a just-as-thick layer of scum.  Then we drove to a marina at the campground which was low-risk for e coli and had a less solid layer of scum.

But the idea of getting that stuff on our boats (and in our boats, because we always take in some water when kayaking), not to mention wading in it for the short amount of time it takes to get in and out of the boats, was not appealing.  

So yesterday was not a kayaking day.  But we learned something, so it wasn’t a total loss.  It was also a beautiful day and we like East Devil's Lake Campground.  And, as we drove around Lincoln City we found the perfect place to kayak for next time:  the Pacific Ocean's Siletz Bay, just south of Lincoln City. 
One of the signs at Devil's Lake.
An unedited photo of the water meeting the shore at Regatta Grounds in Devil's Lake.
And water near the boat slips at the Devil's Lake State Park Campground boating area. Nevertheless, we saw one kayaker in the water and a couple of boats.  And it was probably OK away from the shore.  But near the shore is where I like to kayak plus there's the issue of getting in the water and past the bloom.
The Oregon coast's Siletz Bay just south of Lincoln City, Oregon.  Its estuaries would be especially lovely to kayak. 

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