Blue-green algae bloom threatens wildlife, economy
- By Jeff Skrzypek, WPTV NewsChannel 5
- Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:59 p.m.
STUART — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection continued on Thursday to analyze water samples linked to toxic algae in the St. Lucie Estuary.
Signs were posted by the Martin County Health Department at locations like Sandsprit Park warning of bacteria and blue-green algae in the water.
Sport fishermen like J.J. Klarmann of Jensen Beach said he is seeing the algae blooms all over the St. Lucie Inlet.
“Chocolate milk mixed with slime. I mean it’s getting pretty bad,” said Klarmann.
The bright, green clumps could be seen all over on Thursday bunching up along the shore.
“This place is such a beautiful place and to have slime all over the beach, no one wants to see that,” said Klarmann.
Researchers like Dr. Brian LaPointe at the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute said the algae could be floating around for awhile.
“Once the problem is here it’s very difficult to deal with it in this environment,” said La Pointe.
Researchers said other chemicals can be dumped in the water to deal with the algae, but it could be just as harmful to the environment.
“These blooms are harmful and that’s why we call them harmful algae blooms,” said LaPointe.
The longer the “green goo” remains in the water, LaPointe estimates the public could start seeing more and more dead fish or plant life and more cases of people reporting injuries from being too close to the algae.
Sport fishermen like Klarmann worry the situation could impact the local economy.
“A lot of people around here depend on fishing because they’re captains and run charters. They don’t want to take clients out in green sludge. I wouldn’t want to take a client out in green sludge,” said Klarmann.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said while it is aware of the toxic algae bloom, it has no plans to stop the discharge. Engineers said water levels at Lake Okeechobee remain critically high.
State investigators expect to have the result of three rounds of testing next week. The results are expected to shed more light on the intensity of the problem.