Blue-green algae blooms are back

Reporter: Justin Kase
Published: Updated:

Blue-green algae is back and blooming in Lee County earlier than usual.

Experts say it’s due to the warmer weather we’re seeing right now, but Wednesday night’s storms could’ve been a silver lining for neighbors, masking the smell and breaking up the gunk.

The Florida Department of Health said it has detected blooms in the Caloosahatchee River, Telegraph Creek, Hancock Creek, and Moody River.

This week, neighbors and visitors saw the blooms building up along the river and in the creeks just off the Caloosahatchee.

They haven’t seen the gunk since the front moved through, and they haven’t been plagued by the smell that comes along with it, but they’re not fooled. They’re still taking precautions, and the experts say that’s the wise move here.

What’s shocking for people is how early in the year we’re already seeing the blooms.

“That’s more than I’m seeing because I haven’t seen any. I come here all the time,” said Andy, who fishes at the Franklin Lock and Dam.

Barry Rosen, an expert from Florida Gulf Coast University‘s water school said all the ingredients are aligning to support the growth of these blooms.

“We had a fairly wet winter, so because of that, all the nutrients that are built up on people’s lawns and in the watershed are coming off earlier than normal, so you’ve got the nutrients that you need. Now that the days are getting longer, you’re getting more sunlight, it’s getting warmer, all those things that allow a little bloom to thrive,” Rosen said.

The host of the campground at the Franklin Lock and Dam, Michael Baird, said algae blooms have been building up here.

“Since they’re not opening the gates to allow water to go through to the ocean, it’s because they’re trying to apparently desalinate the water, revitalize the estuaries down there, but because of that, all of the algae is just starting to build up behind the dam,” Baird said.

Because the blooms are potentially toxic, people are staying away from the water and keeping their pets away, too.

The campground host told us he communicates regularly with the ranger overseeing the lock and dam.

He said the ranger expects the lock and dam to open up on the 20th of this month, and when that happens, they expect the flow of the river to flush out the algae that’s been accumulating there.

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