Toxic algae bloom in lake sparks safety concerns

Posted at 9:46 PM, May 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 06:29:47-04
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As discharges from Lake Okeechobee continue, concern is growing over a toxic brew of blue green algae now blooming in the swollen lake. 
"If you think what we seen in tourist season was bad you just wait until what's about to come," said John Heim, leader of the Southwest Florida Clean Water Movement. Heim has been keeping a close eye on the 33-mile algae bloom in Lake O.
"Here we are on a back canal on Fort Myers Beach. I've just come out here five hours later and noticed that we're starting to see a green tint to it," said Heim. 
A green tint he believes is evidence of the presence of blue green algae. 
last week, he saw first hand the green globs of cynobacteria growing at Franklin Lock where water flows into the Caloosahatchee River. 
"This is not just about the destruction of our ecosystem and killing our sea life," Heim said. "This is now affecting our human population, as it always has, but in a much broader scale."
The toxic blooms can be disastrous to marine life: causing fish kills, destruction to sea grass and small marine animals like shrimp and crabs. 
The fear now is the danger it may pose to humans.  A Fox 4 investigation revealed a possible link between blue green algae toxins and neurodegenerative diseases like ALS
Tests by the state department found the toxins in Lake O aren't enough to harm you, but protestors in Matlacha Sunday weren't convinced.
"We see animals being sick, we see the oysters dying we want our water back," said Birdie Smock, Matlacha water awareness activist.
Satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a huge chlorophyll bloom in the middle of Lake O. Water quality activists fear the worst is yet to come.