Watch out for algae blooms in St. Johns River if you plan to be on water

Active algae blooms, toxins detected from Lake George to St. Johns County

By Roxy Tyler - Web producer

Algae Bloom: Palatka, Lake George, Drayton Island, Welaka, April-May 2019, photos by St. Johns Riverkeeper

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The St. Johns Riverkeeper is warning you to beware of algae blooms in the river as you celebrate over the Memorial Day holiday. Algae blooms and toxins have been detected in the waterways from Lake George to St. Johns County which is causing concern for you and pets.

Blue-green algae can emit toxins that cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and respiratory irritation. High exposures to algae toxins can even affect the liver and nervous system. If contact occurs, wash off immediately and thoroughly with clean water and soap and rinse your pet's fur.

The Florida Department of Health is offering the following safety tips if you come in contact with a visble algae bloom.

  •  Avoid scummy, foamy water where algae blooms are present (Heavy blooms often appear as bright or pea green and occasionally include a scum on the surface that looks like paint.)
  • Don't cook with, ingest, or eat fish or crab from the water where blooms are occurring. 
  • Do not let your pets drink from affected waters.
  • Don't eat fish that look unhealthy.
  • Do not swim in, jet ski through, or play near scummy water or blooms.

If you see an algae bloom, you're asked to report it to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website.  It's important that the blooms be documented as FDEP knows where sampling is needed.

Algae blooms are fueled by excessive nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in our waterways that come from fertilizers, sewage sludge, septic tanks, wastewater effluent, and even reclaimed water. 

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