Lake O’s algae bloom and possible impacts on Southwest Florida

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
lake o algae
Credit: Ralph Arwood/ Calusa Waterkeeper

If you’re heading out on the water, you’ll want to watch out for areas with algae blooms this weekend.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Health issued a health advisory for Davis Boat Ramp, which is on Davis Boulevard in Fort Myers Shores.  The alert for Franklin Locks is still active for now.

WINK News reporter Gail Levy went to Davis Boat Ramp and didn’t see any algae. But, experts say, that we should still be cautious.

The green you see in Lake Okeechobee right now is a bloom of Cyanobacteria.

“It’s a little early to have such a massive bloom, or what it appears to be,” said Barry Rosen, Ph.D., a professor at The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Rosen said right now, the conditions in Lake O are perfect for that bloom to grow quickly.

Could it get to us here in Southwest Florida?

“We don’t know how it’s going to be consumed or utilized by all the other organisms in the water on its way out there. The system is too soon to tell,” Rosen said.

We’re already having to heed the warnings from the health department about Davis Boat Ramp and Franklin Lock.

Although WINK News didn’t see any algae, Rosen says that doesn’t mean you should jump in.

“Lot of times these things are moving up and down with a waterfall. So they could be just below the surface,” he said. “And that’s the scum that we tend to see. But certain times of the day they sink down.”

This means you should keep kids and pets away from the water.

The FDOH warns that being around algae can give you a cough or a headache.

Rosen also mentioned that to break up the bloom currently in Lake Okeechobee, it would have to run out of nutrients or not get enough sunlight.

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