Starry Stonewort, a highly aggressive and rapidly spreading invasive macro algae, continues to infect Michigan inland lakes at an alarming rate. Introduced to the Great Lakes region via the ballast water of freighters navigating into the Great Lakes region from the St. Lawrence Seaway, Starry Stonewort (scientific name: Nitellopsis obtusa) was first observed in Lake St. Clair in 1986, and was detected in a Flint area inland lake in 2006.
The invasive macro algae, a native of the United Kingdom and Europe, is thought to have infected over two hundred Michigan inland lakes as of the summer of 2011.
Starry Stonewort is often confused with chara, a beneficial, native macro algae that occupies the near bottom shallow areas of many inland lakes.
Inland lakes plagued by Starry Stonewort rapidly lose diverse populations of native floating, emergent and submerged aquatic plants as increasingly large areas of the lake are covered by light green aquatic “meadows” of the invasive macro algae. Inland lakes infested with Starry Stonewort often develop very clear water by preventing the re-suspension of bottom sediments and depriving native phytoplankton (various species of native algae) of life sustaining nutrients.