Cyanobacteria blooms can be a variety of colors, such as bright green, blue-green, white, red or yellowish-brown. The water may look like pea soup or the surface may look as if paint has been spilled on the water. They may or may not have thick scums or foam. Many cyanobacteria can sink or float to control their location in the water column, so a bloom can appear to move and change quickly. Other factors, such as wind, rain, wakes from recreational activities and currents, can also affect the location of a bloom or how it appears.

So how do you know if your bloom is cyanobacteria or not? You can always contact a professional by completing the Harmful Algal Bloom Reporting Form. A member of the response team will be glad to assist you in determining whether you should be concerned about the bloom.

The photo gallery below shows examples of typical Missouri cyanobacterial blooms. The links provide additional resources that contain examples of both cyanobacteria and non-blue-green algae.

When in doubt, report and stay out!