[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Algae bloom washing up along Caloosahatchee


Algae bloom washing up along Caloosahatchee

Jan 26, 2012 5:32 PM EST
By Sarah Hollenbeck, NBC2 Reporter


Scientists have discovered another algae bloom - one that is impacting the Caloosahatchee River. It has been found along the river from downtown Fort Myers to Fort Myers Shores.

Officials we spoke to say the highest concentrations have been found at Tarpon Street pier off SR-80 as well as at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin and North Shores Park in North Fort Myers.

In fact, David McElroy and Marylin Fermanich say it ruined their lunch date at North Shores Park.

"You want to be out on a pleasant day enjoying a picnic, but it's kind of nasty," McElroy said.

This week scientists discovered two types of algae blooming in the river.

The first is Akashiwo Sanguinea which located under the water's surface and has reddish-brown hues.

The second, Polysiphonia, can be seen right along the shoreline. Though it's ordinarily green, once it decomposes it turns black and stinks.

"It's like a barn yard or sewage," McElroy described.

Rick Bartleson, from the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Marine Lab discovered the algae on Monday.

By Thursday, it had grown a quarter-of-a-mile and is now almost two miles in length.

The reason, Bartleson says, is excess nitrogen, which commonly found in fertilizer.

"A reduction in nutrients is best to keep levels of algae normal. A little bit is good, too much takes up oxygen," Bartleson said.

And environmental groups warn if the state has its way, we'll see more of these blooms.

They're rallying against House Bill 421, which sets state nutrient standards and repeals local fertilizer ordinances that environmentalists say are stricter.

"It's going to cost millions in cleanup. Taxpayers have a vested interest in this bill to control pollution from our waterways," said Jennifer Hecker, with the Southwest Florida Conservation Commission.

The algae isn't toxic to humans, but enough of it will choke out oxygen to fish.

And this foam it creates can impact birds as well by drying out the oil on their feathers which allows them to fly.

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