Toxic Algae That’s Harmful to Dogs Found in Central and Morningside Parks


An advisory notice placed near the Harlem Meer during a prior algae outbreak. Photo by cultivar413.

Algae that can kill dogs if they eat or lick it has been found in sections of Central Park in recent weeks. Tests taken in the past two weeks have detected cyanobacteria, which can produce toxic substances, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Turtle Pond (near 78th-79th Street) and the Harlem Meer (106th-110th) were both found to have “high toxins” when they were tested on August 19, according to the state. It’s also in the pond in Morningside Park.

The impact on animals can be severe, according to the Times.

The bacteria can cause skin rashes and neurological problems in animals, and can release toxins that can cause liver damage and respiratory paralysis. Dogs can collapse or die suddenly after swallowing contaminated water while swimming or licking toxic algae from their fur, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The algae has become more prevalent in the city in recent years. The particularly high level this year can be attributed to high rainfall, which has been linked to climate change, the Times notes.

People are advised to stay away from the affected lake and wash any skin that touches the algae.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Fetch says:

      Thanks for posting this information. I had contemplated sending in a request that you publish something on this topic.

      It would be good to know if any testing was performed for The Pool (west side b/w 100 & 102nd). Two to three weeks ago there was an almost solid layer of green algae scum covering the surface, but no signage indicating danger.

      There were also at least a couple of people throwing sticks into the ‘water’ for their black lab, who would emerge completely covered in green slime.

      We mentioned to them the recent story in the NYTimes that had reported deaths to animals in North Carolina and Austin, TX, from toxic blue-green algae, but they basically just shrugged.

      The utter irresponsibility and lack of common sense of some animal owners is astounding. But there should be signage anyway.

    2. young man! says:

      I couldn’t believe how many people were out in rowboats yesterday. The water didn’t even look like water, it was totally green.
      Do people have no common sense?

    3. michael says:

      According to data, We have had wetter years and wetter months. Regardless, whether it is related to increased temperatures or not, is there a plan to rectify this? Maybe increased oxygenation? Reduction of the excess nitrogen and phosphorus runoff?

      This has been a repeated nuisance for years – not just this year. The ponds in the mid-late summer have been a repeated embarrassment.

    4. On the waterfront says:

      I hope the turtles in Turtle Pond are safe from this scourge and are being looked after by the park rangers. On the other hand, maybe they can dunk some of the rats in the water and reduce the vermin population.

    5. Carnival Canticle says:

      The Parks Department sign is inadequate.
      While it tells people what they should or should not do in the presence of the algae,
      it gives no hint of WHY they should stay away. Not a word about the toxicity of the stuff to animals or humans. With as bland a notice as this, it’s not likely that many people will bother going to the web site for more information while walking their dogs or kids.

    6. Marilyn says:

      There are standing waters in Riverside Park. Since the neglect occurring from Bloomberg no longer personally fully funding parks through his own pocket – funny how he did it when he was Mayor. The deterioration of Riverside Park and more surely of the “landscaped Islands” that separate Riverside Drive Buildings from the Park itself. It’s worse than the 1970s. More people use these islands than use any bike lane on UWS. Put priorities where the people actually are.