LEE COUNTY, Fla. - This holiday weekend, people celebrating the red, white, and blue may also see some unsightly green and brown at our beaches.
Local environmental experts say a rare and harmful algal bloom is plaguing our water. The good news is, Lyngbya appears to be on its way out. But, according to a brand new report from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, clumps of red, green and brown drift algae are now accumulating along Fort Myers Beach.
A slew of algal blooms this year are being blamed on an excess of nutrients in the water from last year's heavy flows from Lake Okeechobee. The most concerning of late, Lyngbya, has been spotted on the Sanibel Causeway and inshore parts of the island. SCCF tells WINK News it's the first we've seen it since 2006.
"In big clumps, it's not something you want to eat," Research Scientist Dr. Richard Bartleson said. "These bacteria grow right on the surface of the sediment and that is where a lot of the phosphorous that flows down from runoff and the runoff settles out."The SCCF is freezing one sample of Lyngbya so an expert from the Smithsonian Institute can study it for different toxins.
Just this week, President Obama signed a bill authorizing $82 million to help clean up southwest Florida's waterways, namely, the Caloosahatchee River.
That federal money will fund research to help control toxic algae outbreaks.