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Experts say algae bloom spotted in Caloosahatchee not harmful to humans

Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-06 22:32:38-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Scientists noticed a different kind of algae bloom in Southwest Florida this week. It’s called Akashiwo Sanguinea. Experts say it’s not harmful to humans, but can kill fish.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spotted it on a satellite map in the Caloosahatchee River. It’s hard to see in the water, but experts say as it grows it looks similar to red tide, and can produce mucus-like clumps.

Unlike toxic blue-green algae that blooms with nutrients, fresh water and high discharges, Marine Science Professor Dr. Michael Parsons says this algae can bloom without any of that.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that there’s lots of different algae out there. Lots of them bloom,” he said. “They can bloom under different conditions. And not all of them are harmful, and not all of them are toxic.”

Parsons said high concentration of the algae pose a threat to fish, especially in canals where they can’t escape.

“They can actually draw down the oxygen levels during the night time, because they’ll be respiring, and just using the oxygen up. That’s when the fish are in danger,” he said.

He said it’s killed fish in the panhandle decades ago and it can also harm birds.

“This mucus can actually coat on the feathers of the birds and that can really hinder their flight. And it might have an effect on how well they can insulate their body and things like that,” he said.

Dr. Parsons said he doesn’t think this algae will be around very long. He said it could clear out with more rain and discharges from Lake Okeechobee.