One morning we had a flock of healthy Jacob sheep. The next morning half a dozen of them were dead. Their heads were thrown back, their limbs twisted. They had died in agony.
The horror that killed them and devastated us was a powerful toxin that has been identified in the lakes of every province in Canada. Although the highest concentrations are around the recreational waters of central Alberta and southern Manitoba, a new study published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences shows no province has escaped it.
Cyanobacteria is what scientists call blue-green algae. Others just call it “pond scum.” The algae are not always blue-green. They can range from olive-green to red. The algae that killed our sheep had formed on a pond they relied on during summer’s heat.
Our algal bloom occurred only once in the nine years we were on the farm. (It was nowhere near as massive a bloom as you can see in the photo on the next page.) The combination of high temperatures, still water, and contamination from upstream waters helped create the perfect setting for an algal bloom. We were new to the property and not yet aware of the deadly combination.
Next: Climate Change and Toxic Water
Photo 1 from Wikimedia Commons; Photo 2: Thinkstock
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