Written by Jenny Staletovich. June 29, 2018.
Lake Okeechobee, Florida's liquid heart, is once again exploding with a massive algae bloom, a deepening crisis that threatens to slime both coasts in what has become a recurring summer nightmare.
This week, thick green blooms the consistency of a sickening smoothie seeped down the rural Caloosahatchee River toward the southwest coast. More ooze piled up on the lake's eastern banks, pushing against a gate leading to million-dollar waterfront homes and businesses along the St. Lucie River estuary. While state testing has so far confirmed only low amounts of toxic cyanobacteria, Calusa Waterkeeper, a nonprofit Fort Myers river watch group, posted sample results recently showing levels hundreds of times above what is considered the safe limits for human exposure in some of the hardest hit areas.
"It's kind of horrific," Chandler Moulds, 19, said Wednesday as he cast a jig into a thick mat of algae at Barron Park in LaBelle, home of the famed Swamp Cabbage Festival. "I've lived in LaBelle my whole life and I've never seen it like this before."