24 January, 2012

A sea of green...

Over the past few days there have been a couple of reports in the paper warning of a blue green algae outbreak in the Barwon. Testing of Lake Connewarre has returned high levels of toxins with further tests to take place. The more serious possibility that conditions downstream at the river mouth, where hundreds of tourists and locals per day are enjoying an extended spell of warm weather in and on the river, might be hazardous as well was also an issue. The first article appeared two days after we'd been there ourselves and the boys had both been paddling in the shallows. Great!
Well, several days later and no sign of any ill effects, however today's paper had a subsequent article - complete with graphic photos - of a subsequent outbreak at Queen's Park. Signage has been erected and the usual warnings issued.
Warning signs duly noted!
Not satisfied with reading the paper, I decided to head down to the river and snap a few shots of my own. Wow! They weren't kidding. Upon arrival, I was confronted with what can only be described as a lurid green Barwon River swirling with muck.
My First stop was at the nearby "duck pond" which was murky green and smelt vile (but the latter is not so uncommon). Clearly the ibis, ducks and egret who were happily paddling about in the pond were not too perturbed by either the colour or the smell. Good thing they can't read, or they might have been a little more concerned.
Barwon River at Queen's Park
Next, I wandered over to have a look at the river itself near the Queen's Park Bridge. Well, there was certainly no doubting that an algal bloom had occurred. Everything was green. Needless to say, I wasn't about to go paddling in the water, but even from above, I could see that the turbidity levels must just about have been off the scale.

Blue green algae swirling in the current
 Except for the fact that this stuff is rather nasty and can lead to all sorts of health problems (see my previous post on the subject here) it was actually rather pretty. The current was making all sorts of intricate patterns from the millions of green specks infesting the water and where the water lapped at the bank or became caught up in a backwater, lines and swirls were forming on the water's surface and a solid layer of teal coloured muck was collecting.
Blue green algae amongst the lily pads
In the calmer area slightly downstream where the water lilies grow, the algae were tending to collect, forming a crust on the surface of the water. All rather bad news for the water quality, but quite cool to photograph.
A build up of blue green algae near Queen's Park
As I took my photos, various water birds continued to make use of the water, seemingly unaffected by the outbreak. So too did two crews intent on their rowing practise along with their support boats which caused small waves to lap at the bank, but didn't significantly disturb the green goop.
Water lilies in the blue green algae at Queen's Park
 After a few minutes, I had taken the shots I'd come for and headed for home. The next rain is forecast for later in the week-end or early next week. I would think a fairly good downpour would be needed to clear out the green goo and get things back to normal once more. Until then, I for one won't be going swimming!


  1. My Goodness, what a lot of "slime".
    Seldom does one get to see it so graphically.

  2. Wow, looks a lot better now! I can't believe people were rowing at that time.

  3. Yes, including my nephew who survived to tell the tale. They just recommended a good shower afterwards!