Thick algae grows at Burnt Cedar Beach on Lake Tahoe |

Thick algae grows at Burnt Cedar Beach on Lake Tahoe

Annie Flanzraich
Sierra Sun
Sierra Sun/Jen SchmidtAlgae, visible through Lake Tahoe's famously clear water, was discovered Tuesday at Burnt Cedar Beach in Incline Village.

LAKE TAHOE ” It’s green. It grows on rocks. It feeds on sunlight and nutrients.

It’s algae, and it has come to Burnt Cedar Beach in Incline Village.

UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center scientists spotted the growth two weeks ago, and said the green stringy algae is a common phenomenon in spring.

“Right now is time when we get the peak paraphyton growth,” said Scott Hackley, a staff research associate with the center. “The lake is warming, you have more sunlight and the lake has often gone through a period of mixing when it brings up nutrients.”

Last summer residents at Marla Bay near South Lake Tahoe saw a higher level of Zygnema algae in shallow waters.

At the time, Hackley said that the level of growth was unprecedented when it was spotted in early August 2008.

Later, researchers found a connection between the Marla Bay algae and the Asian clam beds in the area.

The algae beds at Burnt Cedar Beach are not the same as those down at Marla Bay, Hackley said.

“I think they are different the bloom over the Asian clam beds in the Marla Bay region, that was more of a floating foam algae,” Hackley said.

Scientists are monitoring algae growth around the lake, including at Burnt Cedar Beach.

“You can have localized areas with higher growth than others,” Hackley said. “The growth we’re seeing now is kind of spotty and localized in the Burnt Cedar Area but there are some pockets of fairly heavy growth. I think its within the range of variability we see in the spring.”

The algae grown could have been fueled by sunlight, nutrients coming from snowmelt, warmer temperatures or a host of other factors, Hackley said.

“We’re still trying to understand all the factors to heavier growth areas,” he said.

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