Harmful algae bloom detected in Pinellas County waters

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Another algae bloom is clogging up waters across the Tampa Bay area.

For weeks now, Blue green algae has impacted waterways in Sarasota and Manatee counties, but now its making its way north.

Blue-green algae is slimy, nasty, and its making its way across the region.

Over the past few weeks, blooms have infested Sarasota waters, and congested canals at Robinson Preserve in Manatee county- even leading to a vast fish kill.

Now authorities have detected it in Pinellas County.

“Given what we went through last year with the red tide, there are nutrients left in the system that can help drive algae blooms,” Pinellas County Division Director for Environmental Managements Kelli Levy.

The ‘lyngbya’ bacteria was spotted in intracoastal waters in Treasure Island and Gulfport. The algae thrives in warm water. Levy says these blooms do not typically appear along gulf beaches.

“We’ve had very warm water temperature. We go through these long hot periods without rain, you add nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to the mix and you’re kind of creating a perfect condition for algae that thrive,” she said. “I’m keeping an eye on the environment because its not back to normal. I know the red tide is gone but it takes a while to recover from something like that so its not unusual to see things not be quite normal.”

Officials say blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make people sick and harm animals.

“What are the long term effects to being exposed to these types of toxins, we don’t know that? So its hard to advise the public well other than just to say- stay clear,” said Levy.

Authorities are studying the algae and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is trying to develop a program to warn others.

Just as they close off beaches when too much bacteria is present, they soon want to be able to warn people when there’s too much blue-green algae in the water.

State officials have created a helpful website so you can keep track of the spread of blue green algae.

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