Algae showing up in a Cape Coral canal

Published: September 29, 2021 5:33 PM EDT
Updated: September 30, 2021 10:47 AM EDT

People living along County Club Boulevard in Cape Coral are plagued with algae along a canal near them.

Cindy Smith said she has never seen the canal get this bad. But she is not just worried about her family, she is also worried about the animals that live in the canal.

“We actually have manatee that come in this canal, there’s dolphins that come in the canal, and we do have a gator in the canal,” Smith said.

Smith said she and her family like going on the water, too.

“We love to come out here and sit and lay in the sun, and you know, just do the Florida things that people like to do,” Smith said. “The water is part of our life here in Florida.”

But now when the algae popped up on the southeast Cape Coral canal a few days ago.

“It’s thick, and green, and nasty,” Smith said.

While Smith would like to see it gone, she also wants to know if it is safe.

Dr. Barry Rosen, a professor at the Water School at FGCU, said it is safe.

“That transition dark cell, light cell, dark cell tells me right away that it’s Pithophora. That’s a genus of filamentous green algae,” Rosen said. “Is there more of it because there’s nutrients coming in? Very, very likely.”

That’s when the problems arise.

“The only issue is if you have a very large biomass, when it starts to decay, it can cause oxygen depletion, and when oxygen depletion happens, you can have fish kills if it’s widespread,” Rosen said.

Rosen said if the algae dies off and creates a bad odor, the public should not breathe it in.

“We always recommended that people remove it by using a rake, getting it out on the shore, letting it dry out,” Rosen said. “How much of the nutrients you’re really removing so that more doesn’t keep growing? That’s hard to say.”

The City of Cape Coral told WINK News that city staff is blocking off the Ocho Rios Canal to contain the algae. Work to harvest the algae should begin the first week of October. Steps neighbors can take every day include limiting their use of fertilizer and picking up dog waste.