It was a new sight at Dillon Lake when the water turned blood red. It was July 23, 2012, and, in a little alcove about a half mile north of the beach, staff members spotted a red algae bloom called Euglena sanguinea. Last summer was the first time the red algae had been spotted in the state, and it’s the last time it’s been seen since, officials say. “We may not ever see it again,” said Dina Pierce, Ohio EPA spokeswoman.
“Sometimes, it’s just the environmental mix that allows it to grow one year and maybe not in others. There are a lot of variables. “It’s not something that’s been seen much in the United States at all, that we know of, (although) it may have gone unnoticed or unreported.” Ohioans likely are familiar with blue-green algae, the cyanobacteria that can kill pets and affect the liver and nerves in humans. Some species of cyanobacteria can even appear red, but this wasn’t that, Pierce said. In fact, not much is known about Euglena sanguinea, but it can turn the water red and produces a toxin similar to fire-ant venom, according to EPA reports. Data is limited on human exposure to the red algae, but it has been linked to livestock fatalities.