Didymosphenia geminata algae

January 15, 2008

Bow River Pristine Ice Flows

Calgary is the world’s cleanest city and the Bow River is clean enough for fly fishers. Algal ecologists are closely monitoring a bumper crop of Didymosphenia geminata bloom, an algae that thrives on dams and clean water.

Folksonomy: algal ecologist, bumper-crop blooming, jet-set fly fishers, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, rock snot, NB, Quebec, East Coast, New Zealand, headwater rivers of South Saskatchewan River basin, Bow River, Red Deer River,

Who’s who

Didymosphenia geminata (aka Didymo, rock snot) is a single-celled algae called a diatom which is attracted to pristine clear water, an unusual characteristic for algae. When it blooms it covers river bottom rocks with a shag carpet that can completely inundate kilometres of river bottom. Trout like clean waters and their habitat can be destroyed by this invasive Didymosphenia geminata bloom. It has been noticed in the Bow River near Calgary. See Kirkwood, Andrea E.

Kirkwood, Andrea E. akirkwoo@uncalgary.ca; Shea, T.; Jackson, L. J.; McCauley, E. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive

TERA Environmental Consultants, Suite 1100, 815-8th Avenue S.W., Calgary, AB T2P 3P2


2002 “[A]nglers and provincial scientists noticed blooms on lower reaches of the Bow River near Calgary, and the Oldman River below the Oldman Dam (Kirkwood, Shea, Jackson, McCauley 2007 ).”

2004 a “large-scale periphyton study in Red Deer and Bow rivers to investigate natural and anthropolical driven transitions in Alberta rivers” [. . .] The Bow River sub-basin is 26,240 km squared, whereas the Red Deer River sub-basin is 47,831 squared. The SSRB is located in the transition between the Rocky Mountains of western Alberta and the eastern Great Plains. Source water for these rivers originates along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and is a mixture (depending on the time of year) of rain water, glacial and snowmelt water, and groundwater. Though the Bow and Red rivers share similar edaphic and land-use characteristics, they differ with respect to urban footprints, sewage-agricultural inputs, and flow regulation-diversion by dams and hydroelectric utilties. The Bow River has five dams and one substantial weir that regulates and stabilizes flows, while the Red Deer River has only one dam (Kirkwood, Shea, Jackson, McCauley 2007).”

2005 “95% of the freshwater users of the South Island of New Zealand knew about didymo, yet it is hardly recognized within the general populace of North America and Europe (Special Session on Didymosphenia geminata ).”

2006 Special Session on Didymosphenia geminata. Western Division American Fisheries Society Meeting. May 15-16, 2006 Bozeman, Montana. REVISED Post meeting update. Over 60 scientists and aquatic managers from across the US, western Canada, New Zealand, England, and Iceland gathered to exchange information and discuss new findings at the special symposium in Bozeman. The symposium offered the opportunity for people to meet, develop ideas and collaborations, and to express concerns about the impacts of didymo. Donors included Federation of Fly Fishers, US Environmental Protection Agency, the Trout and Salmon Foundation, the Black Hills Fly Fishers, and the Overmountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

2007 Kirkwood et al noted the relationship between dams and Didymosphenia geminata bloom.

Webliography and Bibliography

2006. Special Session on Didymosphenia geminata. Western Division American Fisheries Society Meeting. May 15-16, 2006 Bozeman, Montana.

Brooymans, Hanneke, 2008. “‘Rock snot’ threatens rivers.” Calgary Herald. January 14. B2.

Kirkwood, Andrea E.; Shea, T.; Jackson, L. J.; McCauley, E. 2007. “Didymosphenia geminate in two Alberta headwater rivers: an emerging invasive species that challenges conventional views on algal bloom development.” Vol. 64. pp.1703-1709. http://restigouche.org/reports/Didymo_CJFAS.pdf

Kirkwood, Andrea. 2008. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Dams, Didymo and jetset flyfishers: Didymosphenia geminata algae.”

Bow River Basin

December 20, 2007

The Bow River Basin is fed by ouflow glaciers of the Wapta Icefield which rests along the Continental divide. Wapta Icefield’s glaciers the Bow Glacier (37 km northwest of Lake Louise) at Bow Lake (altitude 1920m 51°40′18″N 116°27′22″W) and the Lake Vulture Glacier, which feeds into Hector Lake (51°34’43.21″N 116°22’3.38″W), both feed into the Bow River. Bow Lake lies south of the Bow Summitt, east of the Waputik Range (views including Wapta Icefield, Bow Glacier, Bow Peak, Mount Thompson, Crowfoot Glacier and Crowfoot Mountain) and west of the Dolomite Pass, Dolomite Peak and Cirque Peak. Bow Lake is one of the lakes that line the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. Bow Lake is the closest lake to the headwaters of Bow River, and has a total area of 3.21 km².

The Bow River Basin runs through the Rocky Mountains from Bow Lake (51°40′18″N 116°27′22″W) to Lake Hector past Lake Louise, Banff (51°10’19.21″N 115°33’59.86″W), Seebee (51° 5’48.44″N 115° 3’51.19″W), Chief Hector Lake Nakoda Lodge and Conference Centre, Stoney Nation , Morley, (51° 9’43.60″N 114°50’55.68″W), Cochrane (51° 2’42.25″N 114° 3’47.48″W), Calgary (population 1,107,200 – 2006), Carseland, Arrowwood, Bassano (near Bow River), Bow City (50°25’59.03″N 112°13’39.55″W), Scandia, Rolling Hills and Ronalane where the Bow River joins the Oldman River join at “The Grand Forks” to form the South Saskatchewan River (R.J.W. Turner, GSC 2005-194 ). The Bow, Red Deer, and Oldman rivers are tributaries of the South Saskatchewan River. This family of rivers carries water from the Rocky Mountains across the dry southern prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan Rivers meet east of Saskatoon then continue to merge with other rivers emptying into Hudson Bay.


1850 End of the Little Ice Age

1850-1953 Bow Glacier retreated an estimated 1,100 meters (3,600 ft).

1994 Bow River Basin report

Calgary installed a state of the art sewage system

1980s In the 1980s the Wapta Icefield, on the Continental Divide in the British Columbia and Abertan Rockies covered an area of approximately 80 km² (30 miles²).

2005 Turner, R.J.W., Franklin, R.G., Grasby, S.E., and Nowlan, G.S. 2005. “Bow River Basin Waterscape.” Geological Survey of Canada. Miscellaneous Report 90, 2005.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bivouac.com. “Wapta Icefield.” Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia.

Turner, R.J.W., Franklin, R.G., Grasby, S.E., and Nowlan, G.S. 2005. “Bow River Basin Waterscape.” Geological Survey of Canada. Miscellaneous Report 90, 2005.

State of the Canadian Cryosphere. Peyto Glacier Case Study. Past Variability of Canadian Glaciers.


Tag cloud: hydrogeology; environmental geology; educational geology; watersheds; rivers; surface waters; lake water; reservoirs; groundwater; water utilization; water quality; groundwater circulation; groundwater flow; groundwater resources; groundwater discharge; groundwater regimes; groundwater movement; climate effects; climatic fluctuations; conservation; environmental impacts; environmental controls; hydrologic environment; environmental studies; urban planning; wildlife; pollution; resource management; pollution; resource management; Bow River basin; water cycle

Area: Bow River; Rocky Mountains; Rocky Mountain Foothills; Prairies; Bow Lake; Lake Louise; Banff; Canmore; Stoney Nakoda Reserve; Morley; Cochrane; Bragg Creek; Tsuu T’ina Reserve; Crossfield; Airdrie; Calgary; Longview; High River; Turner Valley; Black Diamond; Okotoks; Strathmore; Siksika Reserve; Gleichen; Cluny; Standard; Bassano; Brooks; Tilley; Vauxhall; Bow Island; South Saskatchewan River Rolling Hills (near Bow River)

Flynn-Burhoe Maureen. 2007. Bow River Basin. > Google Docs

In our search for Green Calgary we learned about a canoing event on the Elbow River (in the safer waters below the treacherous weirs).

There are a number of places to go canoeing or kayaking, particularly the Glenmore Reservoir (it’s the city water supply, so you’re not allowed to swim in it, or capsize!). The Calgary Canoe Club boathouse is on the north shore, accessed from Crowshild Trail south. The Elbow River is beautiful above the reservoir, in the Weaselhead natural area. The Elbow River from the Reservoir down to 4th Street is popular for rafting and “tubing” and you pass many large luxury homes (be sure to have a life jacket or you’ll get ticketed). The stretch between 4thStreet and Fort Calgary (at the Bow River) is generally too flat and slow to be much fun. On the lower Elbow, below the dam, the water levels are highest in June and the first half of July. The Bow River is also popular from below the Bearspaw Dam to Princes Island (with Bowness Park and other popular put-in spot). The Bow River below Inglewood is also popular (and home to the Bow Waters Canoe Club), but YOU MUST AVOID the weir, just below the Zoo, where the Bow River meets Nose Creek and the Irrigation Canal to Lake Chestermere. Many people have drowned at the weir, which aerates the water for the river trout, and therefore makes floatation impossible. The best portage is on the right (south) bank. West of town, you can canoe/kayak or raft on the Elbow at Bragg Creek, or on the Ghost River, above the Ghost Dam, and in Kananaskis Country. East of town, the Red Deer River around Drumheller is a very leisurely trip (Found locally).

Featured in the City and Region section of the Calgary Herald however is a not too flattering profile on the greening of Alberta. McGinnis (2007) summarized a Statistics Canada Households and the Environment Survey report. She argued that Albertans do not Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as other provinces.

McGinnis, Sarah. 2007. “Albertans have yet to get the green bug. We lag others at caring for the environment.” Calgary Herald . Thursday, July 12.

>> Found locally.

>>Attractions: City Parks. http://calgary.foundlocally.com/Travel/Attr-CityParks.htm

Louise was breathless with excitement and it didn’t help that Reba was pulling at the leash. As usual I was on my knees pulling out Swamp grass and clover from around the heather. She was so proud of her beautiful Labrador Retriever who had just found a trail hidden among the overgrown bushes at the end of an empty lot off Wilmot Road. It was just a few minutes from our hill-side homes overlooking Cowichan Bay. The lot was not really empty as it was completely overgrown with clover, daisies, Swamp grass, wild blackberries and dozens of other plants many of which I had been battling as weeds for the last 18 months in the garden. Here they flourished and were stunningly beautiful swaying in the breeze.

Suddenly the quiet was broken with industrial size squawking. It reminded me of the sound of raptors in Jurassic Park. As we zigzagged through patches of thorny plants we could see huge heron nests that seemed to be balanced precariously atop Alder trees that were too thin and fragile for this weight and responsibility. The loud squawking seemed to increase and decrease in lulls which I thought at first was due to our arrival or maybe even an attack of an eagle. But as I stood silently watching I could see the adult herons incessantly leaving the nests and returning with food for their offspring. The young were rowdy and ungainly and the branches thrashed as they competed for food. One graceless young heron perched precariously on a branch that bent and swayed under his weight.

All around us underfoot were trunks of trees cut long ago to clear the land to the edge of this ravine tucked in behind Pritchard. The ravine meanders with branches leading into Cowichan Bay estuary somewhere near Wessex Inn.

Roger Tory Peterson1 reminded us that the majority of flowers that grow in vacant lots and along roads in North America are aliens. Hundreds of wayside plants came from Europe. Some came from gardens but most came unseen as seeds mixed in with shipments from across the sea. The first known station for a foreign plant is often at seaports or along a railroad track. In the prairies certain flowers came at first to airfields. In 1968 Peterson had already noticed that the best place to find remnants of the disappearing prairie flowers was along the railroad right-of-way. Roadsides are relatively poor because of mowing and plant-spraying operations. Even coastal marshes have lost their flowers through ditching and draining (1986:x11).

Flowers are rooted to earth, often separated by broad barriers of unsuitable environment from other ‘stations’ of their own species. “Therefore over the centuries, subtle differences have often developed with strains that are so marked that botanists have given them varietal names. Others are ignored because they would overburden an already complex taxonomy. Or a flower, from the same seed, may be depauperate in a sterile soil or where lack of competition has favoured it in some way. Familiar flowers than can look unfamiliar. Some hybridize (Peterson 1968:xii).”

“What of the future of rare native wildflowers? Because of the attrition of habitat, some are in a precarious position. Bogs along the southern margins of glaciated country are becoming fewer and orchids requiring bog conditions are harder to find. When a forest has been cut, its shade-loving orchids may also disappear, and half a century or more may pass before succession makes the forest suitable again for them. How can they return? […] Can seeds remain viable in the soil for half a century or more, until succession renders their habitat suitable again? We know little about this (Peterson 1968:xii).”

We entered the trail that Reba had shown us and there was a third space of semi-tropical rain forest. This hidden treasure is tucked away in the village of Cowichan Bay. A small stream, that dries up in the summer, winds through this hidden ravine. It is a corridor of towering douglas fir, cedar trees and arbutus trees with dense foliage that is tucked in between developed areas on either side. Sword and maiden-hair ferns and a wide diversity of wildflowers grow in the cool, moist mini-ecosystem. A few villagers have maintained a trail with an almost invisible entrance at the end of a clearing on Wilmot. I am not sure that it is precisely located on the Flickr map but the coordinates are (48°44’23.86″N, 123°37’39.45″ W).

This is linked to my Flickr and to my Google Earth Community and will be linked to Youtube, Facebook and Google Video.

1. I usually try to separate my own phrasing from that of an author whose works I am citing. In this case these words are a blend of direct quotations from Peterson’s Introduction and my own editing to shorten and summarize. His phrases and wording are so exact, poetic and appropriate that I wanted to enhance their metaphorical quality by keeping them intact. If I included all the “” the result would be too cumbersome.


Peterson, Roger Tory. 1968. “Introduction.” in Peterson, Roger Tory, McKenny, Margaret. 1968. A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America: A Visual Approach. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Peterson, Roger Tory. 1968. “Survival.” in Peterson, Roger Tory, McKenny, Margaret. 1968. A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America: A Visual Approach. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
p. xii.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Taxonomy, empty lots, roadsides.” >> Speechless. June 18.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Taxonomy, empty lots, roadsides.” http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_304fp4w32 June 18.

With our stunning window view of eagles gliding effortlessly over the waters of Finlayson Arm along the ridges and forested steep hills of Sanich Peninsula, we chose to sit side by side more like an awestruck audience than a couple ordering dinner at a restaurant. Within an hour of my arrival at the Victoria airport I felt like I was in another country. Neither the January weather nor the temperate rain forest in its spectacular topography were part of what had become familiar to me as Canadian. I’d already lived in five provinces and Canada’s newest territory but this warm land was nothing like anything I had experienced. Most of the rest of the drive along the dark and winding highway was an anticlimax to that view, that is until we came to the Malahat lookout.

Eighteen months later we are again faced with a choice. Today may be the last day of familiar habits repeated day after day. I’m not sure if I have seen, experienced and learned enough yet to be able to leave.

When I first arrived I devoured maps and trail books to lcoate myself in this unfamiliar topography. Mountain trails traced on a map are useful when you are hiking between and around rocky outcrops, ancient trees and stumps, narrow footpaths . . . Deep in among the Garry Oak, Arbutus and Douglas Fir hilly slopes and valley confuse the hiker who ends up not really knowing if she is ultimately reaching a higher level or heading downhill. Like yesterday when we heading out looking for the low trail along the shore of Tzuhalem and ending up in Genoa Bay having crossed to the other side of the mountain just by putting one foot in front of the other.

Google earth offered seemingly endless potential for locating myself in space and time. But now I realize that it is most useful for tracing where I have been. Flickr lets me geotag my digital photos and visual art works unto scaled maps so I can zoom in to exact locations. Google video lets me float my shaky images and breathless voice in cyberspace describing what I am seeing in the ‘here-and-now’ so that my future self can better remember places that were once familiar.

I have learned the names of the wildflowers that grow under the oaks, fir and deciduous trees of Mount Tzuhalem. I have learned to name it by latitude and longtitude. I know its smells and sounds. I know how to dress in layers in this ecosystem that constantly changes from cool to warm to rain, wind and sun. I know its panoramas and vistas and the names of the mountains and bodies of water that surround it. But I could still get lost here and end up far from my goal.

And this is the glitch in one’s ethical topography of self. The everyday habits, the things that make a home a home, can be taken away either by choice or necessity from one day to the next. And there you are in some unfamiliar place, re-examining again, locating oneself again.

For those who can control how their lives unfold or seem to think they can, habits repeated day after day, reinforce values and make ethical decisions automatically without a lot of reflection.

But for the nomads, the one’s who travel, the unfamiliar shakes us into thinking consciously, deliberately about entrenched habits, values, goals and perhaps even the meaning of life. This is why this phrase remains with me as a question mark, a point of departure for a line of deep reflection that will never end . . .

an ethical topography of Self and the Other based on an authentic relationship of mutual respect

It is by encountering the stranger, the unheimlich, by getting lost in unfamiliar topographies (Taylor 1989, Murray 1991) that we open ourselves to encountering the Other in a spirit of hospitality and friendship that transcends our habitual ways of knowing. It is the unheimlich that puts into perspective that which we held to be true, about ourselves, our beliefs and our values. If the stranger offers us something that resonates or is dissonant with our own beliefs we are compelled to take them out in the light of day, to examine them with new eyes. It is as if in the mirror-pupil of the Other we see ourselves reflected. If we are mutually respectful we will accept that we are answerable (Bakhtin) to that Other and will at least closely examine our own reflection in her eyes. If we are truly practicing hospitality from a cosmopolitical viewpoint (Bennington and Derrida 1997) we will examine those unchallenged assumptions about our values in a more precise and logical way. We will use more precise instruments and acknowledge that somethings were not as they once seemed and our belief in them need to be revised. Others resonate so soundly that it is evident that they are part of our authentic selves.

I see this outer topography as a metaphor for the inner self. Reconfiguring rivers in that intellectual, emotional, spiritual landscape is to me like reconfiguring entrenched habits of thought or behaviour. It won’t happen through human nature but takes a conscious act of will. Through the conscious re-evaluation of our everyday habits and by willfully changing then repeating them day after day we can more clearly evaluate values, behaviours and with greater lucidity and reason (Changeux and Ricoeur 2000b).

1. This is how I have come to internalize Charles Taylor’s moral topography of self. Psychologist Murray summarizes Charles Taylor’s concept of the moral topography of self.

2. Shields’ concept of an ethical dialogical relationship between self and the other has informed my understanding:

Dialogism offers us the potential within a more sophisticated theory of semiosis to position Self and Other, seeing their relationship for what it is, an ethical one of mutuality in the social construction of meaning.


Bakhtin. Answerability.

Changeux, Jean-Piere and Paul Ricoeur. 2000b. What Makes Us Think? A Neuroscientist and a Philosopher Argue about Ethics, Human Nature and the Brain. Translated by M. B. DeBevoise. Princeton: University of Princeton Press.

Bennington, Geoffrey and Derrida, Jacques. 1997. “Politics and Friendship: A Discussion with Jacques Derrida.” Centre for Modern French Thought. University of Sussex. 1 December.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Reconfiguring Rivers Ethics Human Nature and the Brain. >> Speechless.

Murray, K. 1991. “A Life In The World In Australia.” Australian Cultural History. 10:32-45.

Shields, Rob. 1996. Meeting or mis-meeting? The dialogical challenge to Verstehen. British Journal of Sociology: 47.

Taylor, Charles. 1989. “Moral Topography of Self.” in Messer L A Sass and R L Wootfolk (eds) Hermeneutics and Psychological Theory: Interpretive Perspectives on Personality, Psychotherapy and Psychopathology New Brunswick Rutgers University Press.