Alge Turns Lake Erie Green

As my brother-in-law Craig Andrews and I sailed his boat from Rocky River to Vermilion for its annual winter storage last Saturday, we witnessed up close and personal the algae that threaten Lake Erie.

   Somewhere in the vicinity of Lorain I noticed the prop of a speedboat ahead of us kicking up a green spray. I’ve seen white spray, but never green spray.  I glanced down at the water we were plowing through and was startled. I blinked. I shook my head. I looked away and looked back at the water. Was this a mirage or an optical illusion? We were sailing through kelly green water.

    Wait a minute. I looked closer. We were immersed in algae. We were two miles from shore in water 35 feet deep and we were in solid algae. The long tentacles of the plants shimmered just below the surface. The visual effect was much like the aurora borealis.

    I was concerned that the algae would clog our propeller. We were under both sail and engine making about six knots.  But  it was no problem for us. It is not good for the fish, however. The algae sucks the oxygen out of the water.

    Just over a week ago D’Arcy Egan wrote a lengthy piece in The Plain Dealer about the danger of algae in Lake Erie. It’s already the worst in decades and it’s a growing problem. And here I saw it in stunning reality.

    “That’s the problem with a clean lake,” said my brother-in-law. “When the steel mills were dumping their chemicals into the lake, the algae couldn’t grow.”

    Craig is a chemical lawyer. His solution for almost anything is chemistry. His personal favorite is DDT.  We could dump enough chemicals into the lake to kill the algae, but the fish also would die. It seems we did that once before. Hope they find an answer before Lent.

    That’s all for now.  Remember, my next book will be out in early November. The title is “Pass the Nuts” (Gray & Company).  More eccentrics. Hope you enjoy it as much as my first book, “Crazy, with the Papers to Prove It,” which is still available in many bookstores.

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