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Blue-green algae now detected in Pinellas County waterways

Posted at 4:42 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 07:11:41-04

GULFPORT, Fla. -- Blue-green algae blooms are spreading across Tampa Bay on one of the most popular weeks for boating and swimming.

Pinellas County leaders confirming the lyngbya algae is now present in parts of Treasure Island, Gulfport, Tierra Verde and in the canals of the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club.

Kelli Hammer-Levy with Pinellas County's Environmental Management Team says last year's red tide bloom may be at least partially to blame. Levy says although we no longer have dead fish or high concentrations of red tide, red tide nutrients are still present in our waterways which feeds the blooms. That, combined with hot weather and calm water provides perfect conditions for the bloom to thrive.


The algae discovered in Pinellas County is the blue-green lyngbya algae discovered in Sarasota and Manatee counties earlier this summer. Pinellas County says they've been fielding calls about the algae since May.

It looks like brown blobs on the surface of the water. It can make you cough, cause your eyes to water and can be dangerous if you swim in it. When the algae rots, it smells like rotten eggs.

Patricia Walsh, who lives in the Town Shores Condos in Gulfport, has another description for the smell.

“It’s kind of like a trash heap odor. It’s kinda like running through a landfill at times. It’s disgusting," she said.

Pinellas County leaders tell ABC Action News they've been flooded with calls about the algae in the intercoastal and back canals, but they've haven't seen any cases at the beach.

Hammer-Levy suspects we'll continue to see lyngbya algae blooms as red tide nutrients linger in our waterways.

“I think we will continue to see these things crop up as the environment gets back to a new normal it will go through some hiccups,” Levy elaborated.

County leaders say rain is the best solution to break up the blobs.

They are also urging people to clean up after their pets and properly dispose of grass clippings, both of which can add nutrients to the water.

If you spot any blooms, county leaders say stay out of the water and notify them so they can send crews out to test the water.