Blue-green algae detected near Midpoint Bridge in Cape Coral
Blue-green algae has been detected for the first time in Lee County this year in canals near the Midpoint Bridge leading into Cape Coral.
The Florida Department of Health issued a cautionary warning heading into this weekend for the canals by Southeast 23rd Street and Southeast 11th Place after testing found the conditions ripe for a bloom that creates a gooey, green, scum.
However, the agency reminded residents that winds and tides tend to push the components of blue-green algae around, so people in that region should be watchful for the potentially toxic bloom.
Blooms in February are uncommon. They usually occur in late summer or early fall.
Blue-green algae is a bacteria, not an algae. Called cyanobacteria, it usually develops in freshwater but can also grow in brackish or marine environments, which can produce toxins that significantly impact water quality, aquatic life, and human health.
In humans, blue-green algae most often cause eye or skin irritation.
In animals, a particularly potent bloom has been known to kill pets such as dogs, so if Fido gets wet where the bacteria is present wash the dog with an animal-safe detergent as soon as possible. Cats, even livestock, also should not be exposed to algal bloom-impacted water.
Blooms form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients, often phosphate and nitrogen from the overuse of lawn fertilizer by homeowners.
The waters around Cape Coral right now are the average of 67 degrees or so for this time of year, but temperatures in the shallow canals could be warmer as what little grip winter has on South Florida tends to begin to fade this month.
A cautionary warning is issued when there are low levels of the bacteria. But large concentrations can turn the water into a variety of colors and cause foam or scum to appear on the surface, which can emit a nasty odor as the bloom dies off and starts to rot.
Two weeks ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a $30 million effort to reduce instances of blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee River, although it will be some time before those efforts begin.
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.
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