Monday, July 27, 2009
Cyanobacteria close B. B. Clarke Beach
One of my favorite Madison beaches was very peaceful Sunday morning -- because it was closed due to bacterial levels. Specifically, blue-green algae blooms, also known as cyanobacteria. We humans owe a lot to cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae. Life on earth as we know it today would have been impossible without the role they played in paving the way.
Ever wonder what they look like? Here are some closeups. They are the oldest known fossils on earth, going back more than 3.5 billion years. Back during the the Archaean and Proterozoic Eras, their photosynthetic metabolism gradually replaced the toxic atmosphere of the earth at that time with the more benign oxygen-rich atmosphere we rely on today. Cyanobacteria are still around, but now they're better known as a dangerous pollutant on account of the toxins they produce. Kids and pets are especially vulnerable.