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January 16, 2018

River news



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  Action Alert | Algae Bloom Spreads over River

 
Algae bloom spreads over river. Plant can produce toxins, but tests negative so far.

By PAMELA SMITH HAYFORD
phayford@news-press.com
Published by news-press.com on August 11, 2005

A potentially toxic bloom of a microscopic organism — one of the biggest outbreaks locals have seen — is streaking the brown Caloosahatchee River with ribbons of bright green.

It's commonly called blue-green algae, and it can produce a toxin that kills fish, irritates people's skin and, on rare occasions, can cause nausea and vomiting. The scientific name is Microcystis aeruginosa.

Testing to date has found no toxins in the water, said Chip Merriam, a top official with the South Florida Water Management District.

Still, the algae could become toxic, Merriam told the district's board members Wednesday.

The bloom, which stretches at least 20 miles, feeds off nutrients such as those coming from Lake Okeechobee and urban runoff.

Volumes of phosphorus-laiden water have been released from the lake to ease high water levels.

"I've seen the river really, really bad, but basically I think it's about the worst," said crabber Ron Davis, who was on the water Wednesday. "We were finding dead fish and all sorts of goodies."

Davis said the smell triggered a coughing spell.

Lee County Hyacinth Control District resource manager John Cassani said he, too, was amazed when he saw the bloom.

It "will knock your socks off," he said Wednesday after flying over the river. He described it as looking like "turquoise paint" floating in the river.

The green streaks of algae extend from the Cape Coral Bridge to east of Alva, he said.

Cassani was looking for duckweed, another pest that turns water green in Cape Coral.

Duckweed, the smallest blooming plant in the world, covers canals in a blanket of green while the algae is microscopic and forms soupy gelatin-like masses. It, too, feeds off nutrients.

• A mixture of duckweed and blue-green algae litters an inlet Wednesday on the north end of the Cape Coral Bridge. John Cassani/Special to news-press.com
http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050811/NEWS0105/508110438/1007

LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE TO TOXIN
To limit exposure to microcystin toxin:

    • Don't go in the water.
    • Don't let children or pets in the water.
    • Don't drink untreated water containing the bloom.
    • Do not use herbicides because this will release the toxins directly into the water.
    • If exposed, wash the area thoroughly with clean water.

SOURCE: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

ABOUT THE ALGAE
The algae streaking the Caloosahatchee River with bright green is called Microcystis aeruginosa.
WHAT IT IS: A microscopic cyanobacteria that is found naturally in freshwater lakes and streams.
TOXICITY: Can be toxic but isn't always.
THE MYTH: Often called a blue-green algae, it's actually a simpler form of life more closely related to bacteria.
WHERE: Globally including Australia, South America, Europe and the United States.
DESCRIPTION: When it blooms, it resembles a bright green paint spill or a layer of smelly, gelatinous scum.
WHY IT'S HARMFUL: When it decomposes, it can lower oxygen levels in the water. Sometimes, this results in fish kills. It sometimes emits a toxin that has been blamed for human and livestock poisonings.
TRIGGERS: Nutrients found in fertilizers, stagnant water and alterations to the ecosystem such as land clearing, farming and water management.
HEALTH EFFECTS: Microcystin toxins act on the liver and are known to promote tumors. If the toxins contaminate drinking water, people might experience nausea, vomiting and in rare cases liver failure. Such effects in humans are highly uncommon in the United States. Touching the toxins can cause skin irritation.

SOURCE: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute