What is that slime?

Have you ever noticed orange slime or a rainbow sheen in puddles on the dirt roads and ditches? This may look like someone’s car has leaked fuel or someone’s dumped something they shouldn’t have. The good news is you’re likely seeing the result of a very natural process that is not harmful to people or the environment.

Some species of bacteria that live in water and soil eat dissolved iron. They cause a chemical reaction that turns the dissolved iron (ferrous iron) into an insoluble form of iron (ferric iron) that can appear as reddish/orange staining on the water and soil surface.

The bacteria form a “biofilm” that is just the bacteria floating together on the water’s surface. The biofilm appears as a rainbow sheen that can look very similar to an oil sheen.

How do you tell the difference between biofilm and an oil sheen? It’s easy—just poke the sheen with a stick. If it breaks apart, it’s likely bacteria; if it goes back together, it’s likely a petroleum product (see photo above).

Image of natural sheen created by bacteria – it breaks into tiny pieces and doesn’t reform after being disturbed (source: Michigan Government).

Information for this article was gathered from the following sources:

Michigan Government. Bacteria: A naturally-occurring phenomenon. Department of Environmental Quality. Available from: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-oea-nop-bacteria_378414_7.pdf.

Government of British Columbia. Other aquatic phenomena. Available from: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/water-quality/algae-watch/recognize-algae/other-aquatic-phenomena.

Redoubt Reporter. Science of the seasons: Yellow boy bacteria has people seeing red. Dr. David Wartinbee. Available from: https://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/science-of-the-seasons-yellow-boy-bacteria-has-people-seeing-red/

Is Your Boat Ready

Is Your Boat Ready?

The ice is still on our lakes but now is a good time to be sure your boat is properly outfitted to go  into the water. Following is a Transport Canada list of mandatory safety equipment. Be aware that the police will issue fines for failure to have this equipment, including stand up paddle boards.

Motorized Craft up to 6meters in length (19ft 8in):

  • An appropriately sized Canadian – approved personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket for each person on board
  • A buoyant heaving line (15meters in length)
  • Manual Propelling device (e.g.  Paddle) or an anchor with at least 15 meters of rope, cable or chain
  • Bailer or Hand Pump
  • Sound signaling device (e.g. air horn or whistle)
  • Class 5BC fire extinguisher
  • Navigation lights if used between sunset and sunrise or periods of reduced visibility (mist or rain)
  • A waterproof flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares
  • A vessel license if a motor of 10hp or more

 Canoes and Kayaks:

  • An appropriately sized Canadian -approved personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket for each person on board
  • Sound signaling device (e.g. air horn or whistle)
  • Bailer or pump (Exception: pleasure or water craft that cannot hold enough water to make it capsize or watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible. E.g. sit on kayak, inflatable kayak)
  • Navigation light if paddling at night
  • If craft is more than 6 meters long, watertight flashlight

 Stand Up Paddle Board:

  • An appropriately sized Canadian -approved personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket
  • Sound signaling device (e.g. air horn or whistle)
  • A buoyant heaving line (15meters in length) if not wearing a PFD
    (In simple terms wear a lifejacket with a whistle and you are fine)

RLCA will again be placing speed buoys in key areas of our lakes this year.  Please obey the suggested speeds and you will protect yourself, your neighbours and your boat.