A toxic algae bloom study is still in the learning phase at Hancock Biological Station. A $3.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation awarded last year, supports real-time sensors that relay water quality data to the station every fifteen minutes.
HBS Director David White said the sensors in Kentucky Lake, Ledbetter Creek and Panther Creek collect 25 different measurements including water temperature and pH levels to help predict algal blooms. White said interpreting the data has been a challenge.
“We still need to have a better handle on why they occur, when they occur and what the conditions are that are conducive to their blooms," White said. "That’s what we’re trying to work on.”
Algal blooms occur naturally but excess phosphorous and nitrogen in the water can promote blue-green blooms that can become toxic when they die. White said the station added nitrogen and phosphorus sensors to the study last month. People can access the data through the station’s website.