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Bacteria known to cause harmful algae blooms found in Caloosahatchee River

Will blue-green algae make a comeback this summer?
Posted at 11:18 PM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 07:11:54-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Although the thick guacamole-colored blue-green algae that infiltrated parts of the Caloosahatchee River and canals in Southwest Florida last year eventually dissipated, the non-profit, Calusa Waterkeeper, hasn't stopped monitoring the water quality.

John Cassani showed Fox 4 where traces of Microcystis were found in the water near W.P Franklin Lock and Dam Monday morning. By the afternoon the wind had blown most of it away, but you could still see little green specks in the water.

“You can see some of the little residuals right there, those little green dots, and the little particles in the water column, that’s what we are calling microcystis,” said John Cassani.

Microcystis is a cyanobacteria that can turn into harmful algae blooms. Cassani says triggers that feed blooms include rising water temperatures and nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and iron.

Fox 4 asked Cassani if people should be worried this could turn into a summer like last year. “Worry would be an understatement, people have so much anxiety over this, it’s almost like PTSD from last year," said Cassani.

Even if you don’t see a bloom Cassani suggests avoiding contact with the water if cyanobacteria was found in the area within the last couple of weeks.

“We are so far behind in knowing the public health risk, especially with inhalation, and toxicity, I’m afraid it’ll be years before we actually know the health risk,” said Cassani.

Calusa Waterkeeper will be hosting a town hall this summer educating people on what they do know about the health risks associated to being exposed to blue-green algae.