TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Florida is perfect for summer activities by the water, however, the ongoing problem of blue-green algae has given some people pause about going to the beach.
The foul-smelling and toxic algae, officially called Lyngbya, has popped up in Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota and even Hillsborough counties in the last month according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Last year, many bodies of water became slick with from blue-green algae, along with a significant, 14-month-long red tide algae bloom that plagued all three Florida coasts at one point.
A year later, and with a hand-picked blue-green algae task force in place under Gov. Ron DeSantis, some blue-green algae may still be feeding off of the nutrients left behind.
According to data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the majority of sample testing in Florida performed in the last 30 days has resulted in finding algal blooms.
Nearly 66 percent of the water sampling in the last month led researchers to identify blue-green algae.
The good news, according to Pinellas County environmental management division director Kelli Hammer Levy, is that contrary to what some may think, the heavy rainfall Tampa Bay residents been experiencing may help taper the spread of the algae.
“I think the rainfall we are receiving here locally will be helpful in the short-term to lower water temperatures,” Levy said. “Blue-green algae like hot and calm water so when those conditions change it is a good thing. “
Although blue-green algae has been recorded in Florida for more than 30 years, the frequency and duration of the blooms have increased over time.
And while residents can’t control the weather, Levy says some seemingly small things can be done to ensure the bloom doesn’t get worse.
“We need to keep the stormwater clean so we don’t add more fuel for them to grow, Levy said. “However, we need to keep the stormwater clean so we don’t add more fuel for them to grow. “