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Researchers continue to test for toxic algae in Lake Superior

Good news came from Meyers beach Saturday, as officials with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore say levels of the most common toxins were not detected in the samples taken from an algae bloom in that area.

Though this is good news for Lake Superior, researchers are still testing samples to see if there are any toxins at lower concentrations.

Robert Sterner, director of the Large Lakes Observatory out of UMD, and his team have been running tests since the bloom was first spotted in the Cornucopia area on August 9th.

Today he told KBJR 6 that they are still working on gathering all the data, so the results are not yet available to the public.

The algae bloom has been diminished immensely, though. Sterner says that it seems to have been an event that developed suddenly one day, then gradually tapered down.

And though this is good news as well, his concern is that this isn’t the first time an algae bloom has been spotted in Lake Superior. The blooms have been spotted since 2012, and this year’s was the largest they’ve seen. 

"My main worry is: are we actually on the — in the early stages of something which will become considerably worse over time? I just have no reason to predict whether it will get better or worse because we don’t fully understand this phenomenon at this point, and it’s such an important resource to our region that even, uh, even any meaningful risk of a serious segregation of this ecosystem is really something everyone in the region needs to be concerned about," Sterner said.

 Sterner did want to make it clear that just because there is an algae bloom doesn’t mean that the water is toxic, but it certainly can be.

Researchers will continue to gather their data, but Sterner says the public can feel a lot better about swimming in that Western Apostle Islands area now.

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