Toxic Algae Found To Be Growing Global Concern

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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.

An invasive fern is at the heart of a dispute threatening a national wildlife refuge in the Florida Everglades. 

The South Florida Water Management District owns the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the 144,000-acre refuge, but now the water management district is threatening to terminate its 65-year lease. 

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

The jury hearing the federal trial of seven people who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon entered a fourth day of deliberations Wednesday — a day after jurors' ability to reach a verdict came into question.

Kyle Holsten / WLRN

What do climate change and Halloween have in common?


They're both pretty scary, according to people at a climate rally Sunday in downtown Miami.


Gavin Baker, via Flickr

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is assessing Hurricane Matthew’s damage to Florida’s beaches. Beaches in central and north Florida sustained the worst damage. In Flagler County a stretch of A1A collapsed. In St. Johns County a new inlet was carved out of the shoreline.

Jackie Keiser of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the damage is significant considering the economic boost beaches give to tourism and property values.

“We’re looking at on the order just in Florida $100 million to potentially $300 million to put that sand back.”

Pat Sullivan / AP via Miami Herald

Fracking is now banned in Miami-Dade County, thanks to an ordinance passed unanimously last Wednesday by county commissioners.


The process captures natural gas reserves by injecting high pressure streams of water, sand and chemicals into the earth. The Miami-Dade ordinance says fracking could contaminate county water supplies, including the Biscayne Aquifier, where many South Florida residents get their water.


Water containing low-level radiation and other pollutants has poured into Florida's primary drinking water aquifer through a gaping sinkhole 45 feet wide.

It happened at a plant owned by fertilizer giant Mosaic in central Florida's rural Polk County, Robin Sussingham of member station WUSF reports.

There are less than 500 North Atlantic right whales left in the world. And now, one less: This weekend, one of the 45-ton creatures was found dead off the coast of Maine, completely entangled in fishing line — head, flippers and all.

This was not an isolated incident.


Mote Marine Laboratory has announced it has raised more than $50 million in the Sarasota laboratory's first comprehensive fundraising campaign for long-term sustainable projects to help preserve unique marine life.


"We are just so excited, but also extremely humbled that we've not only hit that $50 million target, but we've now exceeded it," said Mote Marine Laboratory President and CEO Michael Crosby . "It's historic. But it really doesn't signal an end. It is really something of a new beginning for Mote. And we are really entering into a new era."

An attorney representing three central Florida residents in a federal lawsuit against Mosaic says the legal action is about ensuring safe drinking water. The proposed class-action suit was filed after a sinkhole beneath a Mosaic plant near Lakeland sent 200 million gallons of waste water into the Floridan aquifer.

The lawsuit is the first against Mosaic since the phosphate and potash producer, the world’s largest, reported the sinkhole to government agencies in late August.

A sinkhole opened up Friday underneath a fertilizer factory in central Florida, dumping millions of gallons of contaminated water into the Floridan Aquifer. This is the latest in a string of issues that has scientists worried about the health of the state’s primary water source.


This week on The Florida Roundup: 

How much or how little the state of Florida is  telling the public about the spread of the Zika virus has come under scrutiny. So why are some saying the Florida Department of Health's daily Zika update may not be providing the complete picture? 

Lake Okeechobee’s water level remain near a historic high after Hurricane Hermine hit Florida last week.

The state’s largest lake has been rain-swollen all year, prompting releases of excess polluted water to coastal estuaries. The influxes triggered toxic algae blooms this summer.

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.