Clay County Department of Health issues another algae bloom alert for Doctors Lake

Julie Morgan

Harmful blue-green algae toxins have been found in Doctors Lake at Camp Echockotee, near Lucy Branch, and at the end of Lawrence Road. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection took the water sample on June 23. The alert was issued six days later.

Days before Memorial Day, the same alert was issued for Doctors Lake-Mill Cove. Then, three weeks ago, the state agency found more harmful blue-green algae toxins in Swimming Pen Creek-Whitey’s Fish Camp.

Ahead of the upcoming July 4th holiday, take the proper precautions when visiting the area.

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 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.

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I cover Clay County in North Florida. I write about what matters to you in Orange Park, Green Cove Springs, Penny Farms, Keystone Heights, Fleming Island, etc. Got a hot tip? Tell me about it!

Jacksonville, FL

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