Algae blooms reported on Clay County lake

Blooms can be toxic to humans

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – There is a word of caution if anyone plans to be on the St. Johns River -- algae blooms have been reported on Doctor's Lake in Clay County.

Blooms have also been spotted near Green Cove Springs, Goodby's Creek, NAS Jax, Fruit Cove and in Julington Creek in St. Johns County.

News4Jax's Ashley Mitchem spoke to the executive director of the St. Johns Riverkeeper about toxic algae blooms.

The blooms can be toxic to humans. It can even kill a person.

Hot, dry weather creates optimal conditions for algae blooms, which are a natural phenomenon, but their frequency, duration and intensity are increased by an overabundance of nitrogen and phosphorus, particularly when the water is warm and the weather is calm.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper took a sample Wednesday morning at Doctor's Lake Marina.

"The toxin levels were very low, lower than the WOH standards and guidelines for recreational use, and that's a good thing," said Jimmy Orth, executive director of the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

So how does someone know if algae bloom is toxic or not? You don't know without official testing.

"Just avoid it! I think that's the time to stay away," Orth said. "What you see in this picture, this is what not to do. If it is toxic, it could cause a variety of health problems."

The smell alone would make most people want to keep their distance, but if someone thinks smelling it is safe, but not touching it, they aren't necessarily right about that.

"Even if you don't come into contact or you don't ingest it, it can aerosolize," Orth said. "So the toxins get into the air and you can breathe them in, and it can cause respiratory problems, sore throat, their eyes itch. It can cause serious health problems as well."

A few years ago, the local area had a huge algae bloom problem where a lot of fish died. The problem usually fixes itself and the water returns to normal, but for now the riverkeeper said it's best to stay away.

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