The New Jersey State Police and other officials want to know who's messing with buoys that are meant to monitor harmful algal blooms in New Jersey's lakes.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, a number of these monitoring buoys have been detached from their anchor lines in the northern portion of the state.

State Police have stepped up patrols in the impacted areas, and said that anyone caught tampering with the buoys will be criminally charged to the fullest extent of the law.

"We are asking for the public's help in putting a stop to this," said Colonel Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the State Police.

Since June, there have been two incidents at Lake Hopatcong, one at Greenwood Lake, and, most recently, one at Spruce Run Reservoir. In each case, the buoys were recovered. There were two incidents at Lake Hopatcong last summer as well.

"These buoys gather water quality data used to warn the public about harmful algal bloom conditions and improve our long-term understanding of these blooms," said DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. "When someone cuts a buoy free, they are jeopardizing this work and placing boaters, personal watercraft users and other recreational users of the lakes at risk of injury."

The buoys are part of DEP's comprehensive response to harmful algal blooms, which occur naturally in fresh water and can reach dangerous levels in sunlight and hot weather. Blooms typically resemble pea soup or spilled paint.

In addition to vandalism, there have been a few reports of buoy damage likely caused by boats hitting the buoys unintentionally. DEP is urging the boating public to be alert to the presence of the buoys — the perimeter of each buoy is marked.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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