Lasers to Be Used in New Zealand to Better Understand Lake Snot

First discovered at Lake Wanaka ten years ago, the alga has spread to Lake Wakatipu on the shores of Queenstown and as far north as the previously pristine Lake Tekapo, clogging filters used for household water supplies and electricity generation.

Lake snot, also euphemistically known as lake snow, is now present in 15 of the South Island’s most pristine and famous mountain lakes.

While it is not believed to be toxic, the brown snot-like slime clings to bathers, fishing equipment and water filters.

The problem was now so bad, the Queenstown Lakes District Council was considering investing in a multi-million-dollar treatment plant at the point where it took water from Lake Wanaka to supply households in Wanaka and Arrowtown.

Its chief engineer, Ulrich Glasner, said the slime was worst in summer.  Click on the following paragraph to access the full story.

At the moment the only way to observe the slime being produced is via a very large and very expensive Raman Microscope at Otago University.  The device being developed with the aid of a $1 million research grant by Landcare Research scientist Phil Novis is much more low-fi.  “What we can do is build small versions of them [a Raman Microscope] using fairly cheap components such as a digital camera, processors and laser pointers.”


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