Calif. Hit by 'nuisance' Algae in Rivers

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Scientists say they don’t know why a “yucky” kind of algae is fouling a stretch of a California river to the displeasure of swimmers and fishermen.

About 10 miles of the Bear River northeast of Sacramento is clogged with a strange algae called “didymo,” short for its scientific name, Didymosphenia geminata, The Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

People’s dislike of the algae has earned it the nickname “rock snot.”

“No doubt, it is pretty yucky, and that’s the complaint from a lot of recreationists,” Leah Elwell at the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species in Livingston, Mont., said. “If you’re kayaking, you don’t want to get a mouthful of that. It does kind of foul up your day.”

Native to North America, the algae has been reported in several other California locations, including portions of the American River’s south fork and the Feather River.

Scientists they’ve grown alarmed by a mysterious change in its behavior in recent years.

“Nuisance blooms” of didymo are being reported with increasing frequency around the world.

Experts say they don’t know why, but suspect everything from climate change to a genetic mutation in the algae itself.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions about why things are happening the way they are now,” Elwell said.

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