November 27, 2013 at 11:07 pm #1445MikeKeymaster
Air, land and water toxins have risen a whopping 15% in Arizona in this past year. No one should assume the devistation is due to global warming. This is quite clearly TOXINS not GW.
By Antigone Barton
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 30, 2007
Coarse mats of fast-spreading, mud-green algae are blanketing acres of sea floor and delicate coral reef from northern Delray Beach to southern Boca Raton, according to volunteer divers who gathered samples of the growth and of the surrounding waters along the South Florida coast Thursday.
The harmful algae – which drifts like khaki-colored snow through the water, snagging in the filigree of sea fans and covering ocean habitats – has appeared intermittently, spreading along the coastline since January, said Ed Tichenor, director of Palm Beach County Reef Rescue.
What are these?
The nonprofit organization coordinated the five boats and 11 divers from Hallandale Beach to North Palm Beach involved in Thursday’s testing.
For the past five years, the group also has tracked a red algae bloom downstream of a Delray Beach ocean sewer outfall that spews 13 million gallons a day of partly treated municipal wastewater and concluded that discharge from the pipe fed that bloom.
The source of pollutants feeding the new green growth remains unclear, Tichenor said.
Samples collected Thursday are being analyzed by scientists at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic
Institution near Fort Pierce.
“It’s definitely cause for concern,” Harbor Branch researcher Brad Bedford said.
His laboratory has determined that previously gathered samples of the algae are predominantly a species called Cladophora liniformis, which feeds on nutrients found in sewage and fertilizer.
The laboratory also is analyzing growths of other algae species to the north, including the red Lyngbea bloom off Boynton Beach; a bloom of another species, Caulerpa brachypus, off northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast; and “record algae blooms” on Florida’s west coast, Bedford said.
These blooms reflect levels of algae-feeding pollutants that have become consistently high enough to support harmful algae growth, Bedford said.
A trifecta of conditions helped the algae flourish, he said. That began with an influx of algae-feeding pollutants spewed into the ocean during successive hurricane seasons. Sunlight from clear skies during the current dry season and high ocean temperatures spurred the growth, Bedford said.
The laboratory will analyze the samples gathered Thursday to determine the type of pollutants feeding the algae.
High levels of sewage pollutants would prompt a closer look at the six pipes pumping partly treated sewage into the ocean from Miami to Delray Beach, Bedford said. “We’ll know more when we get the analyses back in a month,” he said.
Ken Banks, who steers the South East Florida Coral Reef Initiative committee that examines the impact of land-based sources of pollution, said Thursday that he has never seen an algae bloom as extensive or of the species he first noted about a month ago.
“Ideally we’d like to have a pie chart showing all the potential sources of pollutants and attack the biggest piece,” said Banks, who also is manager of marine resources for Broward County’s Environmental Protection Department.
Determining the impact of all the pollutants that spill, spew or seep into offshore waters “is a big undertaking, though, and we don’t have the funding,” he said.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is aware of the growth, spokesman Stephen Webster said. The department plans to send divers to investigate the algae but has been hampered by windy weather this week, he said.
In the meantime, dive boat captain Larry Pearce lent his vessel Manta to Thursday’s effort.
He has dived in the area since 1985 and has never seen as wide-ranging an algae bloom as he has seen in recent weeks, he said.
He has seen the effects of previous algae blooms, including the persistent red algae bloom smothering the reef downstream of the Delray Beach sewer pipe, and said concern for the reef and for his business prompted him to volunteer his boat and his time.
“If the reef disappears, so do the fish,” he said. “And all the diving, and the fishing, and our businesses, and who knows what else.”
That concern is more than hypothetical, said Jeff Torode, whose Pompano Beach-based South Florida Diving Headquarters has felt the effects of harmful algae blooms as divers steered clear of damaged reefs.
“They want to see clean, healthy reefs,” Torode said. “We’re still hoping it won’t hold, but there hasn’t been any evidence of that yet.”
Harbor Branch’s Bedford said he expects the growth to diminish.
“If it does persist, this might be an indication we’re at a tipping point.”
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