Health Alert: Another algae bloom found in Clay County waters

Julie Morgan

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Health officials in Clay County have issued another warning about harmful blue-green algae toxins in the water. The alert is for Swimming Pen Creek-Whitey’s Fish Camp.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for taking water samples. The sample that alerted them to the problem was taken on June 9.

The owner of Whitey’s Fish Camp, Lucian Lawley, says the blue-green algae blooms have not affected business yet. “Normally, it affects our fishing. Until it gets thicker on the water, it’s not a real problem.” Lawley went on to say, “Once it gets thicker, it’ll affect our kayaks. It will happen.”

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor the water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions, and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish, and other aquatic animals.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions.

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski, or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present. Take your pet to the veterinarian if they consume contaminated water.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating filets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish filets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts, and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is tasked with collecting and analyzing algal bloom samples. If you see a bloom, report it to the DEP. Call (855) 305-3903 or report it online here.

If you see fish kills, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511.

You should call the Florida Poison Information Center immediately if you feel like you’ve been exposed to a harmful algal bloom or any other aquatic toxin. Report your symptoms at 1-800-222-1222.

Just before Memorial Day weekend, health officials issued a warning about blue-green algae blooms in Doctors Lake-Mill Cove.

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