Featured mission: Monitoring harmful algal blooms with San Francisco Baykeeper
Harmful algal bloom growth in Discovery Bay. Photo by Robert Most
LightHawk partner San Francisco Baykeeper has flown multiple missions over the past few years to monitor and document harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the San Francisco Bay Area. HABs impair waterways, making them uninhabitable for fish and dangerous for humans. According to the CDC, Algal and cyanobacterial blooms can grow in fresh water, salt water, and brackish water (a mixture of fresh and salt water) around the world, including in water people use for drinking or recreation. Harmful blooms tend to form in warm water with high levels of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
HABs are bad for water systems for a number of reasons. If a bloom becomes so dense that sunlight cannot go through, it can block other plants and animals in the water from getting the sunlight they need to survive. Dense blooms can also clog the gills of fish, shellfish, and other animals, preventing them from breathing.
HAB growth documented in Clifton Court Forebay. Photo by Robert Most
When a bloom dies off, the decay process may use up all the oxygen in the water, causing other organisms in the water to suffocate (not be able to breathe). As a bloom decays, it may also release gasses that can harm people, such as methane and hydrogen sulfide (which smells like rotten eggs).
Recently, two new field investigators joined the Baykeeper team. As part of their
onboarding to the organization, they flew with LightHawk volunteer pilot Peter Geiler. Their flight served to familiarize them with the ins and outs of LightHawk flights with the goal of expanding the partnership between San Francisco Baykeeper and LightHawk for advocacy, community outreach and education, science and legal investigations around harmful algal blooms.
The flight provided documentation of growth at Stockton terminus. Photo by Robert Most.
Additionally, the flight took advantage of time in the air to conduct a seasonal overview of the San Joaquin Delta to evaluate and document remote water quality conditions as part of their ongoing HAB monitoring program.
The flight captured great imagery of harmful algal blooms and was a great introduction to LightHawk flights for the new field investigators.
LightHawk's partnership with San Francisco Baykeeper makes monitoring harmful algal blooms more efficient and effective. Special thanks to LightHawk volunteer pilot Peter Geiler for providing this flight.
A boat pulling a tube cruises past a growth in Clifton Court Forebay. Photo by Robert Most.
Thank you to all who attended LightHawk's Annual Meeting & Fly-In in Washington, DC. As our first fly-in since 2019, it was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Watch the LightHawk website and social media channels in the coming weeks for photos and videos from the event! Special thanks to Thomas Haas for sponsoring this year's event.
LightHawk Photo of the Month
Photo by Ronan Donovan
This photo of Grand Prismatic Lake was taken during a flight over a large beaver complex at the southern end of Yellowstone National Park as a part of an ongoing photo assignment for National Geographic Magazine. The assignment is focused on the benefits that beavers provide for climate change resiliency, fire mitigation and for
keeping water on arid landscapes.
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