As reports increase of algae in St. Lucie River, area businesses worried for summer profits

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - Images continue to come out of Stuart of green algae, including a video taken off a dock in Rio Monday morning showing a band of algae swirling around the water of the St. Lucie River.

"It’s definitely there and it’s not good," said Mary Radabaugh, manager of Central Marine.

Radabaugh and others who operate local businesses are worried they'll see a summer of lost profits if algae continues to worsen.

"The majority of Martin County is on the water and we need to stop this," she said.

"It doesn’t bode well for local tourist business," said Kirk Neville, of Kirk's Dive and Surf Jensen Beach. "We’re not excited about it. It’s bad news to say the least.”

A previous tourism study found Martin County lost a potential growth of $4.8 million in hotel guest spending in 2016.

Overall, tourism stayed stagnant that year, while other areas in Florida saw growth, according to the study.

April, May, October, November and December 2016 saw a decrease in tourists, but during the height of the algae blooms in June and July the county saw more tourists due to sporting events.

Tourism rebounded five percent in 2017, according to the Martin County Tourism Development Authority.

The Martin County Tourism Development Authority is posting constant updates about water quality on a website started back in 2016 called Protect Our Paradise. It provides beach cameras for tourists to look at the beaches themselves.

The goal of the website is to educate tourists and teach them what else they can do in the area that doesn't involve going in the water.
 

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