Toxic algae bloom spreads through Erie's western basin.
This satellite image shows the extent of the "bloom" of toxic blue-green algae currently spreading across Lake Erie's western basin.
Taken Oct. 2, the photo shows the algae blanketing the lake from Toledo east to Catawba Island.
Also called cyanobacteria, blue-green algae are common in most lakes. They grow thick on warm, still days feeding on phosphorus in fertilizers, manure and sewage that rains wash into streams.
The algae produce liver and nerve toxins that can sicken people and kill pets and wildlife. Decomposing algae also rob the water of oxygen and help create a dead zone in the center of the lake were fish cannot live.
The algae are considered a huge threat the lake's 11.5 billion a year tourism industry, much of which is built off summer sport fishing for walleye and perch.
Researchers believe dissolved phosphorus that washed off farm fields in the early spring help algae blooms like this one grow in the lake in the late summer and fall.
A state task force is expected to release a report in coming weeks that will set new goals to reduce the phosphorus, and the algae.