Advisory issued for Sandy Lake due to possible blue-green algae bloom Aug 7, 2019

UPDATE 2:35 pm, Thurs Aug 8, 2019: Risk advisory for Sandy Lake lifted

“When an algae bloom is observed, a risk advisory is issued and initial testing is done to determine whether the algae bloom is toxin producing. If the algae bloom is not toxin producing, the risk advisory will be lifted and no further testing is required.

“If the algae bloom is toxin producing, further testing will be carried out and the risk advisory will remain in effect until blooms have disappeared and post-bloom test results indicate water is within safe limits.”

and earlier, from info forwarded by Councillor Tim Outhit, received from Cemeron Deacoff (Water Resources Specialist, Planning and Decelopment, HRM):

We received the lab results late yesterday afternoon that the specimens identified in the lab were principally diatoms (a form of algae), with trace amounts of one species of cyanobacteria that does not produce any toxins. Correspondingly, staff (i.e., P&D Acting Director Eric Lucic) has approved lifting the PSA. Corporate Communications is now drafting that PSA…


Original post (Aug 6, 2019)

Received this afternoon:

Public Service Announcement
Risk advisory in effect for Sandy Lake due to possible blue-green algae bloom

Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 (Halifax, NS) – The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that due to the presence of a possible blue-green algae bloom, a risk advisory is in effect for Sandy Lake in Bedford. Residents are encouraged to avoid swimming in the lake until further notice.

Sandy Lake Beach, which is a supervised beach, will also be closed to swimming until further notice.

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is naturally occurring in freshwater environments and may become visible when weather conditions are calm. These organisms can multiply rapidly during the summer, leading to extensive growth called a bloom. Some types of blue-green algae produce toxins during blooms and when these blooms decay, the toxins may be released into the water, posing a risk to people and pets.

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Sandy Lake inundated by unpleasant, suspended, reddish, soapy material Aug 6, 2019; and lake level falling quickly

Sandy Lake Beach at 11:13 am on Aug 6, 2019
Click on images for larger versions

I happened to be at Sandy Lake Beach Park on the morning of Aug 6, 2019, shortly after the beach area was inundated with an unpleasant suspended, reddish, soapy material.

It wasn’t there when the lifegurads first arrived. They told me they first noticed it about 10:40; a lifeguard noted that one of the kids in her swim lesson group “looked like the joker from Batman because he had a brown line around his jaw as we had been treading water and his face was in the water at that level, then I noticed it on one of the other kids and as we moved in shallower, the kids noticed all over my back. At about 10:50 we pulled all of the kids out of the water”.

I asked when they (the lifeguards) got there- 9:45 a.m., and “It wasn’t here then, and we were in the water at 10 and there was none of it then.”
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Guided walks at Sandy Lake Sun June 16 and Sun July 14, 2019

“The incredible Sandy Lake (Bedford) and surrounding forest is an oasis in the city. Come and discover the area’s mature forests, lakes, and hiking opportunities. More wilderness could be protected here if only more people knew about the area’s conservation value, and what it will take to keep it wild.

“Join us for a 3 hour guided hike on the informal trails of the Jack Lake side (owned by Halifax Regional Municipality) of the proposed Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park, where we’ll talk about and see the land that could be protected to bring the vision of a Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park to fruition. You’ll also have a chance to learn about the plants, mosses, lichens, birds, insects, and more that inhabit the area.”

Poster – click on image to enlarge

These hikes are co-hosted by the Ecology Action Centre, the Sandy Lake Conservation Association, and the Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park Coalition.

Read more and register on EAC Website

(Cost: Free, but please register as space is limited)

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Sandy Lake & Environs well represented in iNaturalist Nature Challenge – let’s keep at it!

Screenshot of the City Nature Challenge 2019: HRM project
Stats as reported on May 1, 9:30 a.m.
Click on image to enlarge it
Go to project website

The ‘City Nature Challenge 2019: Halifax Regional Municipality’ project ran over the days April 26-29, 2019 and generated an impressive 6839 observations including (approximately) 839 species by 229 observers.

From the Facebook Page:

Some interesting stats so far (which may change this week):

– we rank in the Top 40 of all competing cities for total observations and species identified
– among latitudinally challenged cities, we rank #1 in observations per capita
– we soundly beat Calgary and Richmond and are the “most biodiverse Canadian city in the competition”
– We rank #1 for lichen observations per capita among all cities

Global winners will be announced on May 6, and we have local prizes to give-away too! Stay tuned, and get those observations into iNaturalist

For Sandy Lake & Environs, there were by my count 149 observations by 7 observers with, very approximately, about 55 different species recorded. Final numbers for observations and species will likely be higher as more may be added up to May 5, as long as pics are dated Apr 26-29. The map of observations (as of May 30) is shown below:

Screen capture from a section of the HRM Map for the Nature Challenge showing locations at Sandy Lake & Environs, Multiple observations at some of points for 149 observations in total on May 1, 2019. 

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iNaturalist eyes on Sandy Lake & Environs


As I write this post, we are in the midst of a “Nature Challenge” to residents of Halifax (HRM, Halifax Co)

“Help put Halifax Regional Municipality on the global nature scene! On April 26-29, 2019 over 165 cities across the planet, from Columbia to New Zealand to Calgary Alberta, will compete for the most Biodiverse City, and we need your help. Whether your an avid naturalist or a dog walker, everyone can participate: it’s easy, fun, and will encourage you to get outside. We will be using the iNaturalist digital platform to record observations, under this project.

Signup to iNaturalist today and then join our ‘City Nature Challenge 2019: Halifax Regional Municipality’ project!

If you’re new to iNaturalist, then we can help {either contact us via or follow instructions online at}.

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Please keep an eye out for the “Hemlock Vampires”

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment

There is a recent posting on iNaturalist of a putative occurrence of Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA), aka the Hemlock Vampires, in Hants Co.

If confirmed, the Hants Co. sighting would be the first outside of Digby, Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth and Annapolis counties in SW Nova Scotia.

Regardless, please keep a watchful eye on hemlocks in the Sandy Lake (Bedford) area – in fact on all hemlocks in NS – and photograph and report anything that looks like HWA to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency &/or ISANS &/or Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry – (Wildlife Manager, Biodiversity)
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In a nutshell: why we need to protect lands on the west side of Sandy Lake

We already have ~1000 acres protected, most of it on the east side of Sandy Lake. So why did Walter Regan ask at the Dec 6, 2018 presentation:  “Why do we need those lands on the west side?” ( I am pretty sure Walter knew the answer.)

The following slides/maps explain it all “in a nutshell”:

Click on map for larger version

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Presentation on “A natural history perspective of the forests, wetlands and surface waters of Sandy Lake (Bedford) & Environs” available on YouTube

Short URL (link) for this page:

“By popular request”, I have posted a video incorporating the slides and accompanying audio of my Dec 6, 2018 presentation to the Sackville Rivers Association on YouTube. (I had previously posted a PDF of the slides; the video with audio is the “popular request” part. Thanks to Karen R for editing the audio.)

View: Natural History of the Forests and Surface Waters of Sandy Lake (Bedford, NS) & Environs (YouTube)
1 hr 9 mins. Links to 5 separate segments of the video are given below.

From the description for the talk:

Thurs Dec 6, 2018: A natural history perspective of the forests, wetlands and surface waters of Sandy Lake (Bedford) & Environs

Place & Time: 7pm at 45 Connolly Rd #206, Middle Sackville (the SRA offices)
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Sandy Lake frozen over on Dec 13, 2018 & salt signal increases in streams entering lake via Johnson’s Brook

Revised Dec 17, 2018

Sandy Lake and streams in Dec 13, 2018
Click on image for larger version

On December 13, I repeated a set of observations on pH (a measure of acidity) and EC (electrical conductivity, a measure of salt content) that I had made just over a month ago (Nov 8, 2018) on streams entering Sandy Lake via culverts at the southwest corner.

The lake was frozen solid. I am told it is the first time it has frozen over before January in about 20 years.

Electrical conductivity of Sandy Lake itself has increased over the years:

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Thus Dec 6, 2018: A natural history perspective of the forests, wetlands and surface waters of Sandy Lake (Bedford) & Environs

Place & Time: 7pm at 45 Connolly Rd #206, Middle Sackville (the SRA offices)

Description: As a volunteer contribution to the efforts of the Sandy Lake Conservation Association to protect the ecological integrity of Sandy Lake and environs, David Patriquin conducted extensive observations on plant communities and surface waters of Sandy Lake and environs (including the Jack Lake lands and lands around Sandy Lake and Marsh Lake) over the interval June 14, 2017 to the present. His objectives were “to describe ‘what you see on the ground’, identify significant ecological attributes of the area, and make some assessment of existing or potential threats to the ecological integrity of the area.” David will provide a virtual tour of Sandy Lake and Environs and present his major conclusions about what he now sees as a major ecological and recreational asset for HRM.

David retired from his position as Professor of Biology at Dalhousie University in 2008. Since then he has been active several natural history and hiking groups with a focus on the Chebucto Peninsula.

View PDF of slides

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