WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Concerns about toxic algae are causing anxiety for Treasure Coast residents, but not algae is harmful.
Algae are simple photosynthetic organisms that live in both the ocean and freshwater.
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there are thousands of species of algae and most are beneficial.
However, harmful algal blooms happen when they grow out of control while producing toxins. This can be fueled by warm water and increased nutrients.
Microcystins are toxins that can form in blue-green algae.
Blue-green algae toxins can affect the liver, nervous system and skin. Children and pets are especially vulnerable.
Blooms might be on the surface of the water, but also can be below the surface.
The level of Lake Okeechobee currently stands at 13.74 feet.
The Army Corps of Engineers would like to see Lake Okeechobee drop closer to 12.5 feet by the end of May as we head into the start of hurricane season.