Algae

Florida beachgoers often imagine a day on the water. Colorful umbrellas peppered across the sand, the sound of waves foaming as they crash onto the shore and the inescapable smell of saltwater nipping at your senses.

Sometimes, instead of this picturesque scene, a sickening odor of dead fish wafts across empty beaches, local restaurants are closed because they can’t prepare seafood, and residents even experience trouble breathing. The culprit is red tide.

Scientists are seeing concerning levels of algae this year in Florida's Indian River Lagoon just two years after massive blooms led to the worst fish kills on record.

Paul Lamison / AP

Florida wildlife officials say a red tide bloom persists along the southwest Florida coast and some fish kills have been reported.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the organism responsible for red tides is a natural part of the ecosystem but it can bloom to high concentrations when conditions favor it. Over the past week, samples were collected offshore in Collier, Lee, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Charlotte and Monroe counties.

Peter Frezza / Audubon Florida

As soon as they could after Hurricane Irma, researchers went out onto Florida Bay to see how the estuary fared after its close encounter with a Category 4 storm.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

So much rain so early in the wet season has led to a slow-moving crisis across South Florida: what to do with all the water before things get really bad.

WQCS

Four counties along Florida's Treasure Coast make up a cluster with high rates of both deaths from liver disease and algae blooms.

TCPalm reported Sunday that the cluster in Indian River, Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties is the only one of its kind in the state.

Nationwide, there are 65 such clusters, according to researchers at Ohio State University.

Legislation making its way on Capitol Hill could help Florida communities hit by toxic algae blooms.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Seagrass in Florida Bay has died off rapidly over the past couple of years. About 40,000 acres have been lost, harming the habitat of animals from manatees to toadfish and imperiling the area's fishing industry.

The lingering nature of water through the Everglades has been matched by the slow progress toward the massive goal of reviving the region with more water and cleaner water.

It’s been 17 years since President Bill Clinton signed into law the bill that included the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. That began the modern day effort to restore the Everglades after a century of draining and redirecting the water to create today’s South Florida.

More than half way through the expected time frame for the work only a half dozen projects are underway.

Amy Green / WMFE

Teams from Delray Beach and the University of Idaho are the first finalists in a $10 million competition aimed at identifying ways of removing excess nutrients from waterways.

The Everglades Foundation’s four-year competition targets phosphorus, the nutrient behind harmful algae blooms like those plaguing the Indian River Lagoon and other Florida waterways.

The foundation’s Tom Van Lent says the Delray Beach team’s proposal relies on a natural ocean mineral while the University of Idaho’s is based on a plant scrubbing water clean.

Toxic Algae Found To Be Growing Global Concern

Oct 26, 2016

New research shows toxic algae blooms like those that plagued Florida’s coastal estuaries this summer are a growing global problem.

Research from the U.S. Geological Survey shows toxic algae blooms have been reported nationwide and are implicated in human and animal illness and death in at least 43 states.

Serious algae outbreaks have hit more than 20 states this summer. Organisms are shutting down beaches in Florida, sickening swimmers in Utah and threatening ecosystems in California.

The blooms are a normal part of summer, but the frequency, size and toxicity this year are worse than ever.

And water managers are rattled.

"Everyone's on edge with the cyanobacteria," says Bev Anderson, a scientist with the California Water Resources Control Board.

Emails reporting outbreaks of cyanobacteria — or blue-green algae — fill Anderson's inbox every morning.

The Obama administration has once again refused Florida Gov. Rick Scott's request to declare a federal state of emergency because of algae blooms on the St. Lucie River.

Martin County Health Department

Florida’s Senate President-elect Joe Negron announced Tuesday he’ll seek state lawmakers’ approval for a $2.4 billion plan to store water south of Lake Okeechobee.

 

The plan would require the acquisition of about 60,000 acres of land in an area mostly occupied by sugar growers and farmers. The goal is to reduce Lake Okeechobee water outflows that have contributed to the growth of blue-green algae on Florida's east and west coasts.

A new state report estimates that half the lake area in Florida contains elevated levels of algae.

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