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FACULTY PARTNER WITH KENYAN COLLEAGUES TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE OF HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS

The bright green water in the bay was all too familiar to the visiting scientists from Bowling Green State University. It indicated a harmful algal bloom (HAB). But, instead of Ohio’s Lake Erie or Sandusky Bay, this bloom was in Kisumu Bay in Kenya’s Lake Victoria. As scientists have discovered, toxic algae know no national or geographic boundaries and can cause problems wherever conditions are favorable.

Aboard the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) research vessel in April were BGSU biologists Drs. George Bullerjahn, Timothy Davis, Michael McKay and Jeffrey Miner, along with Dr. Kefa Otiso, an urban geographer in BGSU’s School of Earth, Environment and Society who is originally from Kenya and previously conducted urban environmental research in Lake Victoria’s catchment basin. Working alongside researchers from KMFRI and nearby Kisii University, Bullerjahn, Davis, and McKay collected water samples from the lake and some of its feeder rivers while Miner caught a number of fish including the invasive Nile perch for further study. 

The BGSU researchers were in Kenya this spring for a special joint symposium on water quality at Kisii University in southwest Kenya, a collaboration facilitated by Otiso. Titled “Bridging the Gap: Current State of the Science and Future Research Opportunities between the North American and African Great Lakes,” the symposium allowed researchers from BGSU, Kisii University, Egerton University and KMFRI to discuss harmful algal blooms and the challenges facing sustainable tourism development around Lake Victoria.

Kisii Vice Chancellor John Akama, whose scholarly interests are in sustainable and cultural tourism, also participated.

“All five of us presented our work at the symposium, along with colleagues from Kisii and KMFRI,” McKay said.

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