Mývatn's Marimo Are Disappearing - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Mývatn’s Marimo Are Disappearing

Published May 3, 2014

Larissa Kyzer
Photos by
Vanessa Schipani

The mat of algae on the bed of Lake Mývatn has almost entirely disappeared, most likely due to pollution deposits left behind by human activity, Morgunblaðið reports. This finding is one of the results of research that has been ongoing in the lake for the last few years. 

“This is a very big change for the ecology of the lake,” stated Árni Einarsson, a biologist with Mývatn’s Nature Research Center. The algae mat is one of the lake’s special characteristics, he explained. It helps maintain the water’s equilibrium and serves as protection for small organisms which would otherwise be eaten by larger fish and birds. 

The reason that the algae mat has disappeared is most likely because the pollution has prevented light from reaching the lake bottom. Where once there were nearly a million marimo (known as kúluskítur in Icelandic or “shit balls”) on the Mývatn bed, today there are almost none. 

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