By Mike Kruzman /

The state health department is reminding to residents to be on the lookout for harmful algae in Michigan waterbodies as we hit their peak period.

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, usually occur in Michigan from May through October but are most common in August and September. HABs form due to a rapid overgrowth or bloom of cyanobacteria, which is also known as blue-green algae. It can look like algal scums or mats, spilled paint, or pea soup and can leave colored streaks on the water.

This bacteria is naturally present in lakes, rivers and ponds, but unfortunately has the capability of producing toxins, that at higher levels, can be harmful to people and animals. Breathing or swallowing water containing HABs may cause runny eyes or nose, asthma-like symptoms, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, numbness, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. The blooms in the water can last for days or even weeks, and can also change in size, toxicity and location within the same day.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy reports that 61HABs were found in 35 counties during 2020. If you suspect you have found a HAB, the Michigan Department of Health And Human Services advises against letting people, pets or livestock in the water or near the shore of the affected area. Unless the bloom covers a large part of the lake, areas not affected can still be used.

Report a suspected HAB by emailing, or by calling 1-800-662-9278. If possible, EGLE asks that pictures of the suspected HAB be included.

For more information, including pictures of HABs, visit