DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — The Davidson County Health Department says a nuisance algae, has been found in High Rock Lake. The findings come after a complaint, officials collected a sample and it's been confirmed as the bacteria, Lyngbya wollei.
This type of bacteria is a filamentous cyanobacteria that is common in North Carolina waterbodies. Health department officials say it tends to form large nuisance growths on the lake bottom which can detach and float to the surface as thick black mats. Very large mats can accumulate if they do not die off over winter. It is possible for mats to grow for years underwater before appearing on the surface.
Black mat algae can clog water intakes, cause foul odors, reduce the recreational value of a water body, and create an unsightly appearance, according to the NC Division of Water Resources,. Black mat algae as well as Lyngbya majuscul, its relative that lives in brackish water, are known to have toxic strains that may cause skin irritation.
To their knowledge, this is the first reported incidence on Lyngbya wollei on High Rock Lake, but several other North Carolina reservoirs (e.g. Lake Gaston) are actively trying to manage Lyngbya infestations.
The following steps are urged to keep children and pets from harmful cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) blooms:
- Keep children and pets away from waters that appear discolored or scummy.
- Do not handle or touch large accumulations (“scums” or mats) of algae.
- Do not water ski or jet ski over algal mats.
- Do not use scummy water for cleaning or irrigation.
- If your pet appears to stumble, stagger, or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river, seek veterinary care immediately.
- If your child appears ill after being in waters containing a bloom, seek medical care immediately.
- If you are unsure whether or not a bloom is present, it is best to stay out of the water.