Toxic Algae

Everglades Foundation scientists weigh in on Harmful Algal Blooms

In 2018, a persistent red tide on the west coast of Florida and months of discharging polluted water from Lake Okeechobee to the east and west coasts wreaked havoc for the Caloosahatchee and the St. Lucie rivers and fouled beaches on both coastlines for months, killing hundreds of tons of marine life. Discharges from the lake include a harmful blue-green alga known as cyanobacteria that contains BMAA, a dangerous neurotoxin tied to ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The combined red tide and lake discharges fueled an ecological, economic, and human health disaster that persisted throughout the summer and fall. Many questioned whether the polluted discharges from the lake were fueling red tide, causing it to last months longer than usual and leading to millions in economic and ecological loss.

Scientists at the Everglades Foundation have weighed in, and their work confirms that the Lake Okeechobee discharges containing blue-green algae also “feed and sustain” red tide. You can read their findings in more detail here

The Weather Channel spells it out

In 2016, Kait Parker with The Weather Channel produced a phenomenal documentary, spelling out the problem as well as we could. We encourage you to watch it now.

For 242 days in 2016, Florida was under a state of emergency due to toxic, blue-green algae impacting four coastal counties and devastating the local economy and environment. The algae outbreak was also a direct threat to human health as various local beaches and recreational sites have been temporarily closed by health departments.

Why is Florida experiencing a water crisis that has gained national attention? Lake Okeechobee, one of the nation’s largest freshwater bodies, is polluted by a legacy of nutrient pollution, primarily phosphorus and nitrogen.

Everglades restoration is decades in the making. The clock is ticking faster and faster. The urgency for this work cannot be overstated.

It remains, Now Or Neverglades.


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