Harmful Algae Bloom in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Harmful blue-green algae rose to the surface of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán in October and November 2009. Image taken by NASA’s EO-1 satellite on November 27.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are single-celled organisms that rely on photosynthesis to turn sunlight into food. The bacteria grow swiftly when nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen concentrate in still water. According to local news reports, the nutrients feeding the bloom in Lake Atitlán come from sewage, agricultural run off, and increased run off as a result of deforestation around the lake basin.
Cyanobacteria are toxic to humans and other animals. Large blooms can also rob the water of oxygen, creating a dead zone where other organisms cannot survive. This image illustrates the difficultly of removing the bloom. The long-term solution is to limit or eliminate the run-off and sewage that enters the lake so future blooms can’t develop.

Taken on 2009-11-27
Source NASA/Earth Observatory
License No Rights ReservedNo Rights Reserved
Uploaded by MicroscopeLens on 2014-08-07


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