Cape Coral seeks volunteers to battle blue-green algae

Reporter: Nicole Lauren Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Algae-infested water by a dock. Credit: WINK News

The Cape Coral Waterway Advisory Board needs your help to fight blue-green algae: 50 local volunteers are wanted for a study in partnership with the CDC.

150 volunteers across Florida are being sought for the study, some from Clewiston and even on the east coast, in St. Lucie County. Florida Gulf Coast University says we currently have a pretty good idea of the toxin levels in the water caused by blue-green algae. But we don’t know a lot about the level of toxins in the air.

Volunteers who live near canals will take nasal, blood, and urine samples taken. Dr. Mike Parsons, professor of marine science with the FGCU Water School, says the key to this study is finding out id we are really 100% safe living around these blooms.

“When the toxin load is high enough, that’s why they might start expressing themselves,” Parsons said. “That’s what we need to understand. At what point does this become a greater threat that the body can’t handle?”

MORE: Learn more about the study from the CDC

Initially, this study had to be put on hold because of the pandemic.

“We don’t have the right numbers on what kind of risks this presents,” Parsons said. “When people are concerned that their canal has blue-green algae, or they’re on the water and there are blue-green algae around the marinas and the boat ramps and things like that… we just need the data to understand.”

The study is expected to wrap up in October. Researchers may sample volunteers up to three or five times during the course of it.

Cape Coral will be taking other measures against the algae: adding an algae tab back to its website, deploying algae-fighting devices like the bubble curtain, and activating an emergency call center.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please email or call 561-297-4631. Some of the eligibility criteria include: • Adults aged 18 or older • Live or work on Lake Okeechobee, St. Lucie River, Caloosahatchee River, Cape Coral Canals, or other nearby waters in Florida • Spend at least two hours outside on most days.

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