Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 30, 2013

Invasive ‘rock snot’ algae thrives in Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle

OHIOPYLE, Pa. — A mucous invasive algae has made its way to the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Fayette County.

Didymosphenia geminata algae, also termed “rock snot,” is not harmful to humans.

The algae is native to cold, fast-flowing rivers and streams, and in some cases, it has been known to spread rapidly, filling the cavities between rocks, blocking sunlight, and disrupting ecosystems and plant and animal life.

In addition to ecological impacts, the algae — which has impacted waterways in Canada and Northern Europe — can dislodge from the rocks, forming a mucous layer that can hinder recreational fishermen and boaters.

Kooser State Park in Somerset is free of the invasive algae, but assistant park manager Kevin Blair said other types of algae have become a problem.

“We have your typical algae and we battle them,” he said, adding that the algae volume is especially high this year.

A representative from Shawnee State Park said its waterways have not been affected.

Ohiopyle assistant park manager Stacie Hall said the Youghiogheny’s water fits the algae’s preferred habitat, and since it was first discovered in May 2012, it has spread nearly 17 miles from the dam in Confluence all the way through the park.

“We believe it’s because of the preferred waters,” she said.

“That’s probably as far as it will go.”

Though officials are confident that the algae will not spread much farther on its own, Hall said the Department of Environmental Protection is actively monitoring the growth.

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