Algae bloom and fish in Fla – 09/24/2004

  • October 1, 2013 at 3:43 am #571

    — In, “bcolemanconroy8”
    <bcolemanconroy8> wrote:
    Hi All,

    When you read this article referring to algal bloom; that in and of
    itself may not be alarming. I lived most of my life within walking
    distance to Bays, Intercostal Waterways, and the Ocean.

    It used to be referred to as a red tide. Yup, don’t be eating and
    clams or oysters from an area that has “red tide”. It might make you

    If you swam in an area identified with “red tide” you wouldn’t even
    know it. When these scientist report ~ some of the scientists
    collecting samples in the lagoon noted a stinging sensation in their
    eyes and around their mouths, Landsberg said.

    I’m saying, its more than a red tide.

    We’ll see if there is any discernable follow-up. I doubt it.
    Thanks Sigrid
    Hugs, Bridget

    Algae cause of lagoon fish kill
    By Rachel Harris
    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, August 26, 2004

    State scientists are blaming a harmful algal bloom rarely found in
    North America for killing as many as 10,000 fish in the Indian River
    Lagoon along South Hutchison Island.

    Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in
    St. Petersburg blamed the dead snook, snapper and mullet on the alga
    Takayama pulchella, typically found in the Pacific Ocean, near
    Australia and Japan.

    The organisms, once called Gymnodinium pulchellum, were to blame for
    fish kills in the same area of the lagoon in 1990 and 1996, the only
    other times the algae have been identified in North America, said
    Jan Landsberg, a research scientist with the institute.

    Takayama pulchella
    What is it? A harmful alga that often blooms in estuaries, causing
    fish kills and respiratory irritation in humans.

    Where is it found? Typically, it is found in the Pacific Ocean, near
    Japan and Australia. It has been identified in North America only in
    the Indian River Lagoon, where it has been blamed for fish kills in
    1990, 1996 and this month.

    How did it get here? Scientists aren’t sure, though it might have
    been transported in the ballast of a ship.

    POPULAR PAGES “There’s still very much that we don’t know about
    it,” she said. “But we’ve experienced this one before in the same
    area, so it leads us to suspect there’s something particular to the
    lagoon that helps it bloom.”

    The algae, possibly transported to the area in a ship ballast, could
    live in the lagoon all the time, she said, but only become visible
    when they bloom.

    Scientists don’t know exactly why the bloom is associated with fish

    It could simply soak up oxygen in the water, denying it to fish. Or
    the bloom could be toxic. Some of the scientists collecting samples
    in the lagoon noted a stinging sensation in their eyes and around
    their mouths, Landsberg said.

    Researchers will be testing the toxicity of the algae for several

    St. Lucie County officials first noticed dead fish Aug. 15 at Blind
    Creek and Little Mud Creek, north of the St. Lucie Nuclear Power
    Plant, and at Pete Stone Creek, near Bear Point.

    By Wednesday night, the bloom reached south, almost to the the
    Jensen Beach Causeway, Mosquito Control Director Jim David said.

    “It’s worse than any bloom conditions I’ve ever seen out there,” he
    said. “This is bad, and it’s getting worse, and it might kill more

    The bloom covers mostly backwater areas and water around mangroves,
    where nutrients tend to accumulate. It has turned the water grayish
    brown, with white scum on the surface, and has caused an unpleasant
    odor, which led county officials to first suspect waste water.

    Tuesday night, officials with the Florida Department of
    Environmental Protection ruled that out after inspecting the waste-
    water facilities of St. Lucie County and the Fort Pierce Utilities
    Authority. They found no leaks.

    Scientists identified the culprit as Takayama Wednesday in the St.
    Petersburg lab, where researchers also were testing water samples
    from Port Canaveral, where hundreds of Atlantic croakers were found
    dead in the ocean.

    Scientists ruled out algae in that case, “but it’s possible that
    these fish encountered a bloom somewhere else and just happened to
    die there,” said Heather Porter, a scientist with the Fish and
    Wildlife Research Institute.

    Results from toxin tests, available later this week, may link the
    two fish kills.

    Local environmentalists say they noticed diminished water quality in
    the lagoon in the days leading up to the fish kill.

    “You can’t see two inches into the water,” Kevin Stinnette of Indian
    Riverkeeper said. “It’s just a soup.”

    Boats leave white streaks in their wake, a sure sign of dirty water,
    said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic

    “In the summer months, periodically, the dissolved oxygen gets low
    and the water is shallow because we get extra low tides,” he
    said. “But this is unusual.”

    He said recent releases into the lagoon from storm-water canals may
    have added more nutrients to the water, helping algae bloom. Water
    managers have released about 500 cubic feet, or 3,740 gallons, per
    second from the C-23 and C-24 canals in the past two days, said
    Randy Smith, spokesman for the South Florida Water Management

    But Stinnette said the bloom might have been caused by years of
    runoff of residential and commercial fertilizer. Residents, he said,
    should start to limit how much they use on their yards.

    County officials will keep circulating water in the mosquito
    impoundment areas but will wait until after Labor Day to make any
    releases into the lagoon, David said. They don’t want to spread the

    In the meantime, Jim Moses, environmental health director with the
    St. Lucie County Health Department, urged residents to avoid
    swimming or fishing in affected areas.

    “And if you have any doubts, just don’t go near it,” he said.

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