Lake Erie tourism
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The unusually hot and dry summer has diffused the harmful algal bloom that plagued Lake Erie in recent years, and boosted the lake's swimming, boating and $1 billion sports fishing industry, charter captains and tourism officials say.
Rick Stumpf, an oceanographer and algal bloom specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the most striking element of the bloom this summer was its early diminishment.
"That, we will have to investigate, " Stumpf said.
NOAA won't release its final report on the algal bloom until later in the fall.
But in the meantime, tourism and sports fishing on the lake has rebounded as the water has become crystal clear.
In comparison, last year's record-setting algal bloom hit charter boat fishermen and fishing-related businesses hard, with a 20 to 25 percent decrease in income, he said. Head boats, bait shops, fish-cleaners - they all suffered tens of thousands of dollars in losses, he said.
"The fishing on the lake is good year-round, " Spangler said. "But when people saw a 300 square mile algal bloom in the Western basin, they didn't want to go out. This year, it's like night and day compared to last year."
"We've been resilient, even when the blooms are bad, " Fletcher said. "All the water activity seems to have been at a higher level, and we hope that will translate into increased business for this year and years to come."