Keeping close eye on algae in St. Johns River

Riverkeeper: Algae reported from Lake George to Green Cove Springs

By Jennifer Ready - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is monitoring algae bloom across the state, including in the St. Johns River.

According to the St. Johns Riverkeeper, algae sightings have been reported from Lake George up to Green Cove Springs in Clay County.

“The problem is, there’s nutrient pollution in the river that’s driving this algae, and when it heats up like when it is in the sun, it’s the perfect conditions to have a toxic outbreak,” explained Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

Rinaman said the algae outbreak started earlier than usual this year because of warmer water temperatures and high phosphorous levels. She said as the summer heats up, there are some concerns.

“When you have slime on the river it makes our river unusable,” said Rinaman. “Our marinas are concerned, our boaters are concerned. So we’re keeping an eye on it.”

However, Rinaman told News4Jax the algae is hard to track because it can be under the surface and difficult to see.

“If you see green slime on the river or if you see it in your wake, that means it’s under the surface,” explained Rinaman. “A good rule of thumb is to steer clear of any unusual green areas of the St. Johns or any tributaries.”

Right now, the Riverkeeper said the samples of algae are showing low toxicity, but if it becomes more toxic it can be harmful to humans and pets. According to the Florida Department of Health, algae blooms can cause rashes, nausea and vomiting. 

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