Today we embarked on our first freshwater field sampling at Pinto Lake! We pulled up to the empty parking lot that overlooked the quiet and serene lake. The chilly fog was gently sitting above the still lake and the only sign of life was from the 3 dozen Canadian geese sitting on the shore. My lab back in Florida focuses on fecal contamination and all I could think about was how this would be the perfect spot if one was looking for GFD (avian specific fecal gene sequence) markers. We took some samples using a syringe and pushed water through a 0.2-micron pore filter. If you are looking for a new workout routine, I highly recommend trying to push at least 50 mLs of freshwater through a filter with such a minuscule pore size. We filtered in order to try and detect any microcystis, which is a freshwater cyanobacterium that can produce a toxin that affects the liver very rapidly and can sicken or kill humans and wildlife. There have been cases where dogs have drunk from lakes or ponds that have the microcystin toxin and have died within 24 hours (Backer). There have also been famous cases in areas around Lake Erie where the local citizens were advised the water supply contained unsafe levels of microcystin.
Backer, Lorraine C et al. “Canine cyanotoxin poisonings in the United States (1920s-2012): a review of suspected and confirmed cases from three data sources.” Toxins vol. 5,9 1597-628. 24 Sep. 2013, DOI:10.3390/toxins5091597