TCPalm: Cyanobacteria myths: Not all algae is toxic, blue-green or from Lake Okeechobee discharges

Article Posted on July 19, 2018

By: Tyler Treadway, Treasure Coast Newspapers

With Lake Okeechobee discharges sliming the St. Lucie River with toxic blue-green algae, people are seeing it everywhere now — sometimes in places it’s not.

Since the discharges started June 1, TCPalm has received reports of more than 60 possible blue-green algae blooms on the Treasure Coast. Many were reported by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, others have been confirmed as blue-green algae by DEP, and the rest show strong evidence of being algae.

We've also gotten reports that turned out not to be blue-green algae, as well as some that are but aren't related to the Lake O discharges.

Where it is and isn't

Lake O’s toxic blue-green algae is NOT:

  • On any ocean beaches – yet

Lake O algae hasn’t made its way out the St. Lucie Inlet and onto the beaches, like it did in 2016. You could be seeing sargassum seaweed. And if the water just looks kind of green, there are several kinds of naturally occurring marine algae that's rarely toxic.

Specks of blue-green algae were reported July 20 in the Indian River Lagoon behind the Florida Oceanographic Society's Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, the first reputable report of algae in the lagoon.

  • In Indian River and St. Lucie counties – yet

Brown mats of seaweed reported in the lagoon — at the Oslo Road boat ramp and off St. Lucie Village, for example — are possibly lyngbya (LING-bee-yah), which is a nasty type of blue-green algae, but isn't from Lake O…

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