HUTCHINSON ISLAND, Fla. --Environmental experts are working to determine exactly what washed ashore on Hutchinson Island over the weekend.
Chris Peters took pictures on Sunday of a black, goo-like substance he saw just south of Herman Bay.
It has since washed away, but scientists say it could wash back up, and that concerns them.
Peters said the substance spanned about 100 yards.
Mark Perry with the Florida Oceanographic Society says he's tried to find samples to test exactly what it is. So far, he hasn't found anything. "I think that the concern is the size of it and the extent of it," said Perry.
From what he can tell by looking at the pictures of the substance, he believes it is an algae or bacteria. "The fine material he had in his hand is indicative of a Cyanobacteria or a blue-green algae," Perry said.
He says if it is an algae, that could threaten marine life. "It can take out the oxygen in the water which is really the bad thing about algae blooms. If they decay and take out the oxygen, the fish start to die."
He says it's a sign that there is likely an abundance of nutrients and bacteria in the water. "It's unusual, but it could be triggered by things like the discharges that are happening from Lake Okeechobee," said Perry.
Terry Baker fishes regularly at the Jensen Beach Causeway a couple miles away and worries about the water not too far away. "I wouldn't eat anything I caught from over there," Baker said.
He says he has fished in the area where the black substance was found. "It's very disgusting. It looks like tar or oil," Baker said.
Perry says as Lake Okeechobee discharges are expected to continue, on top of local runoff from rain, the black goo could come back.
He urges if you see it, take a sample and call the Department of Environmental Protection or the Health Department.
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