Health officials warn of algae bloom in Clay County

Blooms can produce toxins that are harmful people, animals

The Florida Department of Health is advising Clay County residents to be cautious around waterways because of harmful blue-green algae toxins found in the freshwater.

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health is advising Clay County residents to be cautious around waterways because of harmful blue-green algae toxins found in the freshwater.

Blue-green algae are considered harmful because they can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

The FDH said the alert is in response to a water sample taken on June 23. Images of the water in Doctors Lake that day can be seen below.

Dept. of Health images of Doctors Lake June 23 (Florida Dept. of Health Clay County)

The FDH said blue-green algae are common in Florida’s freshwater environments, especially in the summer and fall because of warmer temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Usually, a bloom occurs when the rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

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.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe.
  • Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

If you see an algal bloom, report it to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on the toll-free hotline at (855) 305-3903 or report online.

You can find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov.


About the Authors:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.

Kendra is a digital content producer for News4JAX, since May 2022. She graduated from Bethune Cookman University in 2015 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Kendra got her Master's Degree in English from Georgia Southern University in 2017.