St. Johns Riverkeeper concerned about early algae blooms

Blooms have been reported in Putnam, Duval and St. Johns counties

By Jonathan Stacey - Meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After multiple reports of early season algae blooms along the St. Johns River, the Riverkeeper says these slimy sightings may be an indication of a dismal summer for First Coast water enthusiasts and fishermen.

"They are quite extensive in the Palatka area, Welaka, Satsuma and we've also seen a major bloom actually upriver of those areas in Lake George," said Jimmy Orth, executive director of St. Johns Riverkeeper. 

Orth says the early infiltration of possibly toxic algae blooms into the region's largest freshwater source is alarming. 

Over the past week, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection found also algae blooms in the water as far north as Arlington River at Carlton Oaks in Jacksonville with trace amounts also measured in Julington Creek at Mandarin Park​ and near the Guana River​'s Six-Mile Boat Ramp.

"It could be potentially a sign of things to come for the summer especially this early. We haven't seen the water temperatures get really hot yet, and once those heat up it's really a recipe for more blooms," says Orth.

The ingredients for that recipe come from the runoff in your own yard as nitrogen and phosphorous from lawn fertilizers are known to fuel algal growth. Therefore, the Riverkeeper is urging you limit your use of fertilizers and keep an eye out for algae in the river.

"If you see a bloom you can't tell if it is a toxic bloom or not, so what I tell people is just stay away from it. If you're a fisherman don't eat the fish in the areas you've caught these fish either," says Orth.

Exposure to toxic blooms can lead to respiratory and neurological problems for both you and your pets.

Click here to submit report of local algae blooms to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

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