Should I be worried about the algae bloom?
-- A Concerned Citizen

This American Alligator doesn't seem too concerned with the local algae bloom
We went to shoot algae for this article and stumbled upon this alligator in a place where we honestly didn’t expect to see one. Changes in nature cause changes in wildlife behavior, and you are as likely as we to see dangerous wildlife in the most unexpected places.

If I’m honest with myself, being neither a Facebook fan nor in most newscast viewer audiences, I know that I’m often the last to know about big news, even when it’s local news. When it comes to nature news, however, I am often in the know in advance of the general public, due to my near-daily visits to local preserves, and I’ve been watching the algae bloom in my hometown of Stuart, Martin County, Florida in real time, on location, with great interest.

Now that it's crept into everyone's backyard, both figuratively and literally, it seems like social media feeds are all about it. We thought maybe that was a sign we should write about it. And by “write about” we mean make a special trip to our favorite preserve, Kiplinger, and do a bit of research.

Important Reminder:
Algae May Not Be Your Biggest Concern!

 
We’re going to get to that bit about the algae bloom, but, first, this public service message: We went to shoot algae for this article and stumbled upon an alligator in a place where we honestly didn’t expect to see one. Or rather . . . it stumbled upon us! Changes in nature cause changes in wildlife behavior, and you are as likely as we to see dangerous wildlife in the most unexpected places.

If you’re going out to capture the perfect photo of an algae bloom in your neighborhood to post on social media, be on the lookout for animals which could do you harm. You may end up with the “perfect” photo of an emergency room instead!

Algae Hubbub: Should I be worried { for myself or wildlife }?

 
According to this article by Tyler Treadway of TCPalm.com, if you’re allergic to the algae, you may experience a similar allergic reaction to that of hay fever, for example, or pollen. Otherwise, the algae doesn’t pose a threat to humans, as long as you don’t touch or consume it. That means we need to heed Don’t Touch the Water and No Swimming signs { which we should do regardless of blooming algae! }.

This American Alligator seems to have no problem with me whatsoever.
This alligator seems to have no problem with me. The instant it realizes I’m within clicking distance, it dives underwater and swims away quickly, however. Make noise, and MOST alligators will run from you (a LOT) faster than you can run from it.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says that, if it lasts more than a few months, the oxygen depletion may cause fish kills. Otherwise, we’ve gathered that it won’t harm the beautiful creatures we love to shoot { ? #ClickNotBoom }.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Algae?

 
The DEP, the Florida’s five water management districts, the Florida Department of Health (DOH), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and other state agencies are all working together to assess and deal with algal blooms. Each agency has a specific role, according to South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). You can read more about these agencies’ roles on SFWMD’s website here. The DEP’s Frequently Asked Questions page has the most comprehensive algae bloom information we’ve seen thus far.

What’s Being Done to Curb the Algae Bloom?

 
We’ve gleaned that it’s not a matter of what can be done as much as what should be done, and the general answer to that question is nothing.

The FWC recommends inaction because treatment my release toxins, and the Bureau of Invasive Plant Life { yes, that’s a thing, per SFWMD } cites treatments are generally not very effective. In contrast to this advice, you may witness what appears to be treatment, and SFWMD says some counties may treat water bodies used for drinking water. { How that ebbs and flows with “release toxins” and “not very effective” is a question we’ve not seen answered. }

This is a good place to note that the “it’s not harmful” information we’re sharing shouldn’t be misconstrued to mean there’s no big-picture action which could or should be taken. { Our position on that is fodder for another day. } If you’re interested in one man’s opinion of how Lake Okeechobee discharges affect the big picture, read TCPalm.com‘s column by Ed Killer, Green death poisons river. That’s all we’re going to say about that. Today.

Where Can I Get More Information About the Algae Bloom?

  • TCPalm.com is publishing articles on the topic frequently.
  • South Florida Water Management District is posting updates on its website.
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection is keeping a close eye on the bloom, as we’d expect.
  • The Centers for Disease Control website has information on harmful algae blooms (HABs) (according to sources, our local algae bloom isn’t a HAB, but you may find the information interesting).

Where Can I Report Fish Kills or Health Issues?

 
If you see a fish kill or human illness which you believe to be related to the algae bloom, here are the emergency phone numbers provided by the DEP:

  • The FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline number is 800.636.0511.
  • The Florida Aquatic Toxin Hotline to report relevant human illness is 8888.232.8635
Alligator Camouflage -- I'm Just a Tree Limb
Alligators lurking near shorelines can look a lot like Mangrove roots and tree limbs. This one swims toward the St. Lucie River bank and does exactly that!

Side Note and the Bottom Line . . .

 
Side Note: Also remember that camouflage serves a very real purpose to all creatures, dangerous and not so much, and, as you can see in the photo, alligators don't look all that different from shadows, tree branches, and mangrove roots, when they're sitting perfectly still.

Bottom Line: Don’t let the algae bother you too much { unless you’re allergic! }, know that it’s safe to patronize our local waterfront businesses, and, where ever your weekend adventures take you, be careful, neighbors!

Motivational Quotes Inspired by Nature