April 28, 2009, Albany Times Union: Invasive algae found in third water body The Esopus creek contains harmful “rock snot”

Invasive algae found in third water body
The Esopus creek trout stream found to contain harmful "rock snot"
 link is to complete article is here: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=794567
By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Tuesday, April 28, 2009
SHANDAKEN — Another of the state’s premier trout streams now contains an invasive algae with the unappealing nickname of "rock snot," according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Esopus creek in Ulster County is the third water body in the state to contain Didymosphenia geminata — a woolly-textured, gooey brown algae that can cover stream bottoms and damage fish habitat.

In 2007, rock snot turned up in the Battenkill, another well-known trout stream, in Washington County, and in the East and West branches of the upper Delaware River in the Southern Tier.

It is likely the algae was brought to the Esopus by an angler or other regular user of the creek, said Steve Sanford, head of DEC’s Invasive Species Office. The Esopus is also popular for kayaking and tubing.

Because it is not possible to eradicate rock snot from a stream, the only way to stop its spread is by the cleaning of microscopic algae from boots, boats and other gear after leaving the water, Sanford said. "We have got to change people’s habits," he said.

So far, Sanford said, the algae outbreaks in the Battenkill and Delaware have had only minor impacts on fish habitat — although that could change if the outbreaks spread.

Once in a creek, the algae grips rocks along the bottom, growing into thick, smothering mats that eliminate fly larvae and other small invertebrates eaten by trout and other fish. The growths, which can reach up to a foot thick, also can cover fish spawning grounds.

"It is a major concern for all of our streams in the state. We have to get the word out to take precautions," said Ron Urban, state chairman of Trout Unlimited, who said he has been spraying his fishing waders with a marine disinfectant to kill any algae.

The Esopus is one of the most productive wild trout streams in the Northeast. Most of its fish are wild rainbow trout and brown trout, and the state also stocks the stream with hatchery-raised browns.

DEC found the algae in the vicinity of several public access sites along a 12-mile stretch of the Esopus from the "Shandaken Portal" — which transfers water to the Esopus from Schoharie Reservoir — to New York City’s Ashokan Reservoir.

Rock snot mats look like brown or white fiberglass insulation or tissue paper; while it appears slimy and stringy, it feels rough and fibrous, similar to wet wool and does not fall apart when handled.

Over the last two years, the algae has been found in the White and Connecticut rivers in Vermont and New Hampshire, after already contaminating rivers in Arkansas, Tennessee, South Dakota and Montana, as well as British Columbia and Poland. Believed to be native to far northern regions of Europe and Asia, the algae has been on the move into warmer, more nutrient-rich water.

Brian Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or by email at bnearing@timesunion.com.

Block that algae:

Rock snot, or Didymosphenia geminata, an invasive algae that chokes trout streams, has appeared in the Esopus Creek in Ulster County. Steps to stop algae spread include removing obvious clumps of it from gear immediately upon leaving the water.

Items that may have been in contact with algae can be scrubbed for at least one minute in water of at least 140 degrees, a 2 percent solution of household bleach or a 5 percent solution of salt, antiseptic hand cleaner or dishwashing detergent. Gear also can be placed in a freezer until frozen solid. If items cannot be cleaned or frozen, they must be completely dried and kept out of the water for an additional 48 hours to be safe. Any gear that has been used out of state should be treated before being put into state waters.

Source: State Department of Environmental Conservation

Block that algae:

Rock snot, or Didymosphenia geminata, an invasive algae that chokes trout streams, has appeared in the Esopus Creek in Ulster County. Steps to stop algae spread include removing obvious clumps of it from gear immediately upon leaving the water.

Items that may have been in contact with algae can be scrubbed for at least one minute in water of at least 140 degrees, a 2 percent solution of household bleach or a 5 percent solution of salt, antiseptic hand cleaner or dishwashing detergent. Gear also can be placed in a freezer until frozen solid. If items cannot be cleaned or frozen, they must be completely dried and kept out of the water for an additional 48 hours to be safe. Any gear that has been used out of state should be treated before being put into state waters.

Source: State Department of Environmental Conservation

Comments are closed.