Health warning for blue-green algae near Davis Boat Ramp in Fort Myers

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Health officials are warning people to be careful about a profusion of blue-green algae on the Caloosahatchee River near the Davis Boat Ramp in Fort Myers Shores.

Videos from the Davis Boat Ramp show the Caloosahatchee clogged with blue-green algae. Past blooms have hurt Southwest Florida’s economy and the Florida Department of Health issued a warning over the algae’s toxicity to people and pets.

Warm summer months, longer days and plenty of nutrients are the perfect recipe for an algal bloom. They are expected at this time of year, but Chris Wittman, co-founder of Captains for Clean Water, said it’s a little early for the blooms on Lake Okeechobee.

“The lake is… it’s almost 14 feet or about a foot higher than we were this time last year,” Wittman said. “And the concern with… a high lake going into rainy season is that could result in discharges to the coasts, and when you couple those discharges that are damaging to our estuary on their own with the presence of toxic blue-green algae, it’s a real concern to our community.”

Wittman blamed Hurricane Ian for this predicament.

“The lake has a tremendous amount of legacy pollution, legacy nutrients in the lake for decades of pollution,” Wittman said. “When you have a big wind event, like a hurricane, it stirs up those nutrients and the detritus that’s on the bottom of the lake, suspends it into the water, and that’s food for algae.”

Health officials said it is important to exercise caution around the blooms and advised people to avoid swimming anywhere the blue-green algae is visible. As we see blue-green algae continue to pop up, there is a task force in Lee County working to offer solutions.

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