Blue-green algae toxins showing up in Caloosahatchee River

Published: May 13, 2021 6:03 PM EDT
Updated: May 14, 2021 9:24 AM EDT

New images of the Caloosahatchee River show blue-green algae surrounding the boat basin near the State Road 31 bridge.

Streaks of green goo are also on the surface of the Franklin Lock, so much so that the Florida Department of Health in Lee County issued a health alert for algae toxins found by the ramp.

Water advocates say the blue-green algae is a sign of what’s coming next.

Experts say there is about 500 square miles of cyanobacteria in Lake Okeechobee and with the wet season starting soon, the lake level won’t get any lower.

The algae patches are moving into the Caloosahatchee.

“We’re seeing it as far downstream now is almost I-75,” said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani.

Experts warn there is something else awaiting algae in the Gulf.

“With a lingering red tide bloom, you know, all those nutrients are not helpful that that definitely exacerbates the problem,” said Daniel Andrews with Captains for Clean Water.

Andrews said a large bloom also blocks off sunlight from seagrass, the root of the water’s ecosystems.

“Whether you want to go to the beach with your family, and look at dolphins and pickup shells, all of that life generates from the bottom of the food chain, which is those grass beds and oyster beds,” Andrews said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide an update on Lake Okeechobee operations on Friday at 11:30 a.m.