VANCOUVER, Wash. – Biologists from Washington State University Vancouver have begun taking weekly algae samples from Vancouver Lake as part of a $100,000, one-year research contract with the Clark County Public Works department.

The contract is part of the information gathering process headed by the Vancouver Lake Watershed Partnership, a public involvement group whose mission is to improve the total quality of the lake and the functions it serves in the community.

Recent years have seen frequent cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms in the water which have closed the lake to swimmers and boaters.

“The algae can cause skin irritations in humans, and illness in animals when ingested,” said Steve Bollens, director of science programs at WSU Vancouver. “The basic biology and ecology underlying these blooms are not well understood.”

“We need to find out what organisms we have, why they grow here, and what factors – such as nutrients and grazers – affect them,” said WSU Vancouver marine ecologist Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens, also a researcher on the Vancouver Lake project.

Visitors to Vancouver Lake may see researchers taking weekly samples from a dock, or on the lake in their research vessel, the “Sea Coug,” a 22-foot C-Dory craft.

For more information on WSU Vancouver science programs and researchers, visit http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/programs/sci/generalinfo.html. For more information on the Vancouver Lake Watershed Partnership, visit http://www.cityofvancouver.us/PublicWorks/vancouverlake/index.htm.