Charter boat Captain Dave Spangler spends more than 100 days a year out on Lake Erie, helping fishermen enjoy what he calls “The Walleye Capital of the World.”

Spangler: “In the summer, I’m probably on the water as much as I’m on land. And it’s just enjoyable out there. It’s peaceful out there.”

Walleye being reeled in

But in recent years, this idyllic setting has been marred by massive blooms of toxic blue-green algae. The blooms are triggered by nutrients that enter the lake when heavy rains wash fertilizer off farm fields and overwhelm city stormwater and sewage systems.

Spangler: “This year, especially, was the absolute worst we have ever seen.”

Spangler estimates that he and other charter boat operators lost fifteen to twenty percent of their business.

Spangler: “. . . Because we simply could not outrun the green water.”

Charter boat captain on business decline due to algae: 'We simply could not outrun the green water.' Click To Tweet

It’s a problem that’s likely to get worse since downpours are expected to be four to five times more common along parts of Lake Erie’s shores by the turn of the century.

So to draw attention to the issue, Spangler takes groups – including farmers – out to see the blooms first hand. As Vice President of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, he’s also lobbying for Great Lakes restoration funding, and advocating for policies to address global warming.

Climate Connections is produced by the Yale Center for Environmental Communication. Learn more at

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Lake Erie Charter Boat Association
NOAA, partners predict severe harmful algal bloom for Lake Erie

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