Tests confirm toxic blue-green algae in Martin County

Cyanobacteria under microscope

Earlier this week, staff from the  South Florida Water Management District observed an algal bloom at the Port Mayaca Lock on the east side of Lake Okeechobee.

The SFWMD collected samples for toxin analysis.

The samples were processed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Lab results of the water management district’s sampling event confirm the presence of the toxin, microcystin.

The Florida Department of Health in Martin County is urging residents to avoid contact with visible algae in waters near the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam.

Exposure to water containing algae toxins may cause nausea and vomiting if ingested and rash or hay fever symptoms if touched or inhaled.

Sunlight, temperatures, physical conditions, precipitation and the water’s nutrients contribute to the formation of algae.

Cyanobacteria (cyano=blue-green) are a type of algae found naturally in aquatic and terrestrial environments.

Under the right conditions, cyanobacteria can grow rapidly resulting in an algal bloom. Environmental factors such as light, temperature, and nutrients contribute to bloom formation.

Some of Florida’s lakes, rivers, and estuaries have experienced cyanobacteria blooms, including Lake Okeechobee, Lake Apopka, and some parts of the St. Johns River.

An algae bloom may appear green, red, purple, or rust-colored, sometimes resembling spilled paint.

A bloom may be found on the water surface, below the surface, or mixed throughout the water column.

If you spot blue-green algae, contact the Department of Environmental Protection at 561-681-6600.

To report fish kills or abnormal fish behavior call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-800-636-0511.

The Florida Department of Health protects, promotes and improves the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

For more information about the Florida Department of Health, please visit www.floridahealth.gov

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