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Blue-green algae at North Shore Park spurs health alert; red tide stays away

We'll update this page regularly with the latest information about any algal blooms in Southwest Florida that could be harmful.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert June 17, 2022

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County issued a health alert after the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins were discovered. The algae was found during routine testing at the North Shore Park along the Caloosahatchee River. The water sample taken on June 13, and the health department says the public should exercise caution in the area.

The Lee County Environmental Lab also reported sparse specks of blue-green algae at the Alva and Davis boat ramps.

The health department advises the public to stay away from any signs of the algae.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms are considered toxic and can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals. However, blue-green algae rarely causes serious health problems in humans.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian. Blue-green algae can be toxic to pets.
Red Tide Report June 17, 2022

Testing in dozens of places along the coast of Southwest Florida for the organism that can cause red tide only detected very low concentrations far offshore of South Florida.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week, nor was any respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide reported in Florida.

What Is Red Tide?

Red tide is a misnomer because the harmful algal bloom is unrelated to tidal action and not always crimson in color. The blooms occur naturally in ocean water, but recent University of Florida research found the use of fertilizers in agriculture and on lawns contribute to the length and severity of the blooms.

Is it harmful?

Red tide can create a distinctive acrid smell at the beach that few can tolerate for long, and toxins in the water often cause widespread fish kills. The toxins often go airborne and can exacerbate symptoms in those with asthma and other lung conditions. However, red tides rarely cause serious health problems in otherwise healthy people,

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

Previously ...

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert June 6, 2022

On June 6, satellite imagery processed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency found a 100-square-mile bloom of blue-green algae in Lake Okeechobee, mainly along the northern shoreline and in Fisheating Bay.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County issued a health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam, also known as the C43 Canal, due to findings from sampling June 1.

The health alert warned people and their pets to stay away from the area due to “the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins,” the agency wrote. “The public should exercise caution in and around Franklin Lock.”

Future water testing will determine how long the health alert remains in effect

The Lee County Environmental Lab found blue-green algae at the Alva Boat Ramp as visible specks and at the Davis Boat Ramp with accumulation along the seawall.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian. Blue-green algae can be toxic to pets.

Red Tide Report June 6, 2022

The organism that causes red tide was found in background concentrations in three samples from Southwest Florida during the last several days, offshore of Lee and Collier counties.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week, nor was any respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide reported in Florida.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, accelerating change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert May 13, 2022

This week sampling for blue-green algae by the Lee County Environmental Lab at the Alva Boat Ramp in Alva near Fort Myers, which have been deteriorating during the last few weeks, have become such that blue-green algae is "abundant" at the ramp.

The algae accumulation is "moderately abundant" this week at the Franklin Locks, where algae is accumulating on the lock and floating on top of the water. At Davis Boat Ramp, some blue-green algae is being seen as specks in the water.

The lock and the boat ramps are along the upper section of the Caloosahatchee River, which begins at Lake Okeechobee in Moore Haven. Blue-green algae has accumulated in about a fourth of the lake, on the northern edges, and may bloom in coming days.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian. Blue-green algae can be toxic to pets.

Red Tide Report

Red Tide is not being found in any noticeable concentrations in Southwest Florida waters this week.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, accelerating change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert May 6, 2022

This week sampling for blue-green algae by the Lee County Environmental Lab reported moderately abundant amounts in visible streaks at the Alva Boat Ramp, the Franklin Locks, and at the Davis Boat Ramp, all of which are along the Caloosahatchee River.

Over the past week, satellite imagery from Lake Okeechobee showed bloom potential on approximately 160 square miles of the Lake.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian. Blue-green algae can be toxic to pets.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, accelerating change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert April 29, 2022

On April 25, 2022, sampling for cyanobacteria by the Lee County Environmental Lab reported moderately abundant blue-green algae as visible streaks at the Alva Boat Ram, at the Davis Boat Ramp, and at the Franklin Locks as visible streaks that are accumulating.

During the past week, satellite imagery from Lake Okeechobee showed bloom potential on approximately 120 square miles along north and western shorelines.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian immediately. Blue-green algae is toxic to pets.
Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, accelerating change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert April 22, 2022

Over the past week satellite imagery from Lake Okeechobee showed a 5% to 10% bloom potential on approximately 80 square miles along north and western shoreline.

On April 18 sampling for blue-green algae by the Lee County Environmental Lab reported its presence at the Alva Boat Ramp and the Davis Boat Ramp as visible specks. Algae was moderately abundant upstream of the Franklin Locks with streaks and accumulation along the locks, which are located along the headwaters of the Caloosahatchee River.

Red Tide

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said during the week their tests found "background concentrations" of the organism that causes red tide in Manatee County's inland and offshore waters.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian immediately. Blue-green algae is toxic to pets.
Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, accelerating change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Previous:

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert April 2, 2022

Satellite imagery from Lake Okeechobee showed algal blooms over above 80 square miles of northwestern shore, which is increasing since March 28. During the past week scientists have not detected any significant algal blooms off the coast of Southwest Florida; however, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel Island received seven birds with toxicosis symptoms from red tide or blue-green algae in late March. Last week, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported red tide at background concentrations in one sample from offshore of Collier and Monroe counties, each. The same day, the Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of blue-green algae at the Alva Boat Ramp along the Caloosahatchee River without accumulation. The agency also discovered blue-green algae was moderately abundant at the Davis Boat Ramp and upstream of the Franklin Locks with streaks and minor accumulation along a seawall.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian immediately. Blue-green algae is toxic to pets.
Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, accelerating change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Previous:

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert November 22, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Trafford. This is in response to a water sample taken on November 15, 2021. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Trafford.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian immediately. Blue-green algae is toxic to pets.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert July 23, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a health alert
for harmful blue-green algae at Jaycee Park in Cape Coral.

The Department of Health advises:

  • Don't drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area: water where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals.
  • Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish from water with algae blooms.

If your pet comes into contact with algae, contact your veterinarian immediately. Blue-green algae is toxic to pets.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert for July 2, 2021

A health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algae toxins at the Davis Boat Ramp has been issued by the Lee County Department of Health. People are advised to avoid drinking, swimming, wading, using personal watercraft, water skiing or boating in waters where there is a visible bloom. Keep pets and children away from the toxic algae. If your pet consumes or has contact with blue-green algae contaminated water, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Florida Department of Health in Lee County with questions about blue-green algae blooms at 239-690-2100.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert for July 1, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a health alert for the presence of toxic blue-green algae in Orange River – Manatee Park. Blue-green algae is harmful to humans, pets, marine life and ecosystems. If you have symptoms after exposure to an algae bloom or any aquatic toxin, the DOH-Lee asks you report it to the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. If your pet consumes or has contact with blue-green algae contaminated water, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Florida Department of Health in Lee County with questions about blue-green algae blooms at 239-690-2100.

Blue-Green Algae Task Force Meeting to be held Wednesday June 23rd.

Click here for more information.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert for June 16, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is warning the public to "exercise caution" at and near the Alva Boat Ramp and the Caloosahatchee-Franklin Locks due to blue-green algae.

Captains for Clean water has a video to help people understand the toxic cyanobacteria.

If you see blue-green algae, you can report the bloom to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at hits toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report it online. You can also report symptoms from exposure to blue-green algae or red tide to the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222.

If you have concerns about blue-green algae blooms the Florida Department of Health in Lee County encourages your calls at 239-690-2100.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert for June 8, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algae in Alva and Davis Boat Ramps and Orange River-Manatee Park. Blue-green algae is toxic to people and pets. Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom to the Florida Poison Information Center, and contact your pet's veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after coming into contact with blue-green algae contaminated water.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert for June 4, 2021

Harmful blue-green algal toxins have been found in the Caloosahatchee River – Franklin Locks. The Department of Health-Lee County advises:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert for June 2, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Orange River – Manatee Park, found in a water sample taken on May 27, 2021. They advise:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert May 28, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Caloosahatchee-Franklin Locks. They are advising the public to resist any kind of recreational activity where there is a visible bloom, and to wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae. The water is not safe for pets or small children. Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

FWC says: Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately. Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water. If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Lee County at (239) 690-2100.

Blue-Green Algae Health Alert May 24, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County (DOH) has issued a health alert for the Caloosahatchee – Alva Boat Ramp and Davis Boat Ramp. Health officials recommend people of all ages and their pets avoid contact with the water.

Blue-Green Algae Alert May 21, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a health alert for the Caloosahatchee-Franklin Locks due to reports of blue-green algae toxins. Blue-green algae can cause gastrointestinal effects if swallowed. Children and pets are especially vulnerable, so keeping them away from the water during a bloom is especially important. The Department of Health recommends individuals avoid contact with the water. Additional information can be found on the Florida Department of Health’s website.

Updated: January 28, 2022 at 4:03 PM EST