Algae contains chlorophyll. Algae are the foundation of the ecosystem and are primary producers, meaning they use nutrients in the water and energy from the sun to build cell material.
Chlorophyll a and phycocyanin are both pigments found in algae. Chlorophyll a is found in all types of algae. Phycocyanin is found in a specific kind of algae, blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. Blue-green algae blooms can release toxins in water that can be harmful to humans as well as both land and water-living animals. We measure both of these pigments to identify when algae blooms occur in Lake Pontchartrain. Below is a graph of sensor data collected on August 25, 2021 when a possible blue-green algae bloom occurred near the lighthouse during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon hours.