Brown algae recedes, waters clear

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Lyngbya wollei algae floats May 16 alongside the fishing docks in Sarasota Bay at 119th Street West in Cortez. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Local waters were a sparkling blue turquoise May 23 as beachgoers frolicked in the Gulf of Mexico.

At Robinson Preserve, kayakers made their way though mangroves and, on Palma Sola Bay, buzzing personal watercraft interrupted the afternoon naps.

Waters continued to clear around Anna Maria Island after a short-lived batch of “gumbo” brown algae invaded the bayfront in April and May. The lumps of filamentous cyanobacteria the Florida Department of Environmental Protection identified as Lyngbya wollei still appeared in spots but, for the most part, had dissipated or dropped to the bay bottom.

Also, the rotten egg odor that had hung over Kingfish Boat Ramp and other areas was gone.

Testing May 20 by the DEP found the algae in small quantities at Palma Sola Bay and in Holmes Beach, but no toxins were found and, the online DEP sampling map said, “No blooms observed.”

Samples taken May 9 on the north end of Anna Maria showed similar results. No further testing has occurred in Anna Maria.

The DEP website pointed out the thick matted algae is not the same as the blue-green cyanabacteria that fouled Lake Okeechobee and south Florida rivers last summers.

Though no toxins were associated with the “gumbo,” officials continue to recommend people stay out of water containing brown algae. The DEP cited possible rash or skin irritations on contacting the bloom.

To follow locations of Florida HABs — harmful algal blooms — go online to floridadep.gov and click on algae information. People also may report blooms at the website or by calling the DEP hotline, 855-305-3903.

So far, so good on red tide, too

Gulf and bay waters around Anna Maria Island remained clear of red tide — and throughout the Southwest Florida coastline at press time.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission monitors red tide levels weekly. Samples pulled May 20 from the waters near the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria and inland from Palma Sola Bay in northwest Bradenton showed no red tide.

A sample from Longboat Pass taken May 21 also showed no red tide.

The FWC posts the most current eight days of sampling from across Florida at myfwc.com.

Red tide is the common name for a bloom of Karenia brevis, an aquatic microorganism. In large concentrations, red tide can sicken or kill sea life and marine mammals, and cause respiratory issues for humans and animals.

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