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Potentially toxic blue-green algae bloom found in Sarasota Bay. It’s causing a stink

It’s not red; it’s a type of blue-green algae

According to the DEP, there is a type of blue-green algae causing a stink in some waterways.
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According to the DEP, there is a type of blue-green algae causing a stink in some waterways.

It may not be red tide, but another kind of algae is causing a stink along Sarasota Bay in Whitfield.

A potentially toxic blue-green algae is to blame for the stench and unpleasant waters. A sample of the water taken Wednesday from Whitefield Avenue at Sarasota Bay tested positive for the blue-green algae, Lyngbya majuscula, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The sample of the algae bloom, however, did not detect any of the toxins Lyngbya majuscula is capable of producing, according from results released on Friday.

Lyngbya majuscula is a poisonous type of seaweed found in tropical and subtropical areas. Direct exposure to the skin can cause a condition known as “stinging seaweed disease.”

Symptoms include itching/irritation of skin rash and/or blisters, according to the Hawaii Department of Health. Other symptoms include swollen eyes, irritation of the nose and throat, skin sores, oral and intestinal irritation, headache, fatigue and fever.

The DEP has taken three additional water samples in Manatee County this week: from a canal near Key Royale Drive, on the bayside of Holmes Beach and the south end of Palma Sola Bay. The samples were taken Thursday and Friday, and results have of the testing have not yet been released.

Five water samples have been taken in Sarasota County and analyzed by DEP in the past week. Three of the samples — taken at Blackburn Point Park, Indian Mount Park and the Osprey Fishing Pier — found the same blue-green algae, Lyngbya majuscula, absent any of the toxins it is capable of producing. A sample taken from a canal on Central Avenue and 40th Street found a bloom of Vaucheria sp., a yellow-green algae. The fifth sample taken from Marina Jacks, detected a mixture of algae species but no dominant species was detected nor was a bloom.

Further south, however, red tide has been detected in Sarasota County.

The water sample taken Monday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Nokomis Beach showed very low concentrations of Karenia brevis, the algae that causes red tide.

Elsewhere in Southwest Florida, Karenia brevis was detected in background to very low concentrations in Charlotte County, and background concentrations in Lee County. Karenia brevis has not been detected anywhere else in the state recently.

There are no reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation anywhere in the state in the past week, as a result of Karenia brevis.

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