Algae bloom continues in river

FORT MYERS — The Calusa Waterkeeper continues to find dangerously high levels of toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), this time, at three locations in Cape Coral tidal canals.

On July 25, the waterkeeper took samples at Coral, Darcy and Nautilus canals in southeastern Cape Coral. GreenWater Laboratories in Palatka analyzed the samples. This lab specializes in detecting and quantifying cyanobacteria and their toxins.

GreenWater Laboratories’ analyses on July 26 found that significant levels (5,300-38,450 ng/mL) of microcystin were present, greatly exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational threshold (4.0 ng/mL). These levels are consistent with events linked to animal mortalities.

The EPA has stated: “The presence of cyanobacterial scum in swimming areas represents the highest risk of adverse health effects due to abundant evidence for potentially severe health outcomes associated with these scums (estimated at 50-100 ug microcystin/L).”

The Caloosahatchee River has had significant levels of cyanobacteria since at least June 22. Since June 1, a major cyanobacteria bloom has developed along the length of the Caloosahatchee River. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) sampled periodically for cyanotoxins in the Caloosahatchee at various locations during June and July, most recently on July 24. The highest toxin concentration, 463 ug/l, FDEP reported was for microcystin on June 26 at the Franklin Lock.

The Calusa Waterkeeper applauds the state’s action in declaring Lee and six other counties as disaster areas, also calling for sharing adversity by all stakeholders during this crisis.

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