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Algae at a marina in Fort Pierce being tested

Posted: 4:02 PM, Aug 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-22 04:36:47-04
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FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- Tommy Wright likes fish along a causeway in Fort Pierce about once a week, when he’s off work.

"It’s slow, mostly catfish," he said Wednesday.

Across the water, at the Harbortown Marina, algae was collected Wednesday morning by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

You can see streaks of green along the dark water.

“Certainly, looks like some type of algae bloom. Until we get test results back from the DEP we won’t know if its harmful algae like cyanobacteria or something more innocuous," said Dr. Zack Jud with the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart.

He says the water isn't from Lake Okechobee. It’s nutrient-rich freshwater from western St. Lucie County farm land that runs through the C-25 Canal, Taylor Creek, and into the salty Indian River Lagoon Estuary.

Warm weather helps the algae grow.

"Even if this isn’t a harmful type of algae, the amount of fresh water pouring into our estuary is a big concern," Jud says.

The more freshwater and less salt in the water, the worse it is for seagrass and oysters. The seagrass had been making a comeback.

As for Tommy Wright, he got a bite on his line. It was a stingray he will throw back. When he heads home, he won't leave a trace. "Whatever I bring with me, I take."

Safe Harbor Marinas issued the following statement:

Safe Harbor Marinas is committed to collaborating with our local, county, state and federal partners to ensure our waterways remain clean and free from any substance that may cause a potential environmental issue. We are aware of the recent algae presence, and our team is working closely with local government leaders to mitigate the situation. Safe Harbor Harbortown is continuing to collaborate with St. Lucie County officials and the South Florida Water Management District on effective remedies including dredging Taylor Creek to improve water flow. We are extremely mindful of the algae’s environmental impact on both the Indian River Lagoon and local tourism, and we are dedicated to doing our part to ensure a sustainable and long-term solution to the algae situation.

There was algae discovered recently in Stuart, but tests revealed that it was not toxic.