Florida Waterways Face New Threat

September 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

In case you were wondering, Florida hasn’t started offering free guacamole to beachgoers, says resident Neil G. Pansey. The thick, green sludge often spotted along coastal shorelines is due to a toxic algae coming from inland bodies of water.

According to Neil G. Pansey, there have been eight separate incidences of visible cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, marring the Sunshine State’s waterways since 2004. In fact, the algal blooms in 2013 were so bad that visitors and residents alike started referring to that year’s tourist season as “The Toxic Summer.” This year, Florida has declared a state of emergency in four separate counties due to toxic sludge. It is responsible for the death of at least one manatee and made numerous people sick.

Neil G. Pansey says some areas are in the middle of their fourth algal bloom outbreak of the season and that conditions are so bad it is affecting Florida’s biggest source of income–tourism. Unfortunately, many experts believe that cyanobacteria, which is now visible from space, may become the new norm for South Florida’s beaches.

Despite its colorful moniker, cyanobacteria is not an algae. It is a non-membrane-bound organism that utilizes warmth and photosynthesis to reproduce. According to Neil G. Pansey, blue-green algae poses a number of health risks to both people and animals and is responsible for widespread fish death in areas where this bacteria produces toxins.

Neil G. Pansey identifies a combination of environmental factors for the massive algal blooms currently threatening the state. Large inland bodies of water, including Florida’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Okeechobee, are where cyanobacteria originate. From these bodies of water, the bacteria travels through canals and wetlands. Much of Florida’s inland area is dedicated to agriculture that produces byproducts feeding this bacteria, explains Neil G. Pansey. Some activists believe the plan to reroute both agricultural runoff and blue-green algae filled waters should be enacted.

For now, Neil G. Pansey plans to avoid any water that isn’t crystal clear. He hopes that various stakeholders can work together to come up with a plan to combat the negative effects of this most undesirable intrusion in the Sunshine State.


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