"Guacamole-thick" algae blooms invade Florida beaches

July 5, 2016 | Environment
Florida: the smelly, algae blooms invaded the Atlantic beaches | Photo: Greg Lovett/AP

Smelly, toxic algae have invaded the Atlantic coast of Florida, in the United States.

The smelly algae blooms are the result of nutrient discharges flowing out of Lake Okeechobee. The green slime hit St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, and quickly arrived at the local beaches.

The green algae are highly toxic and affect humans, animals, and plants. If drank or touched, it will cause headaches, vomiting, nausea, coughing, hay fever, pneumonia and, in the long-term, liver disease.

The nutrient discharge started on the January 30th, and the algae blooms could be spotted since May 12th. With time, the water's salinity level decreased, and the green slime invaded the local waterways.

Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, has declared a state of emergency in four counties (Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach and Lee County) and called on state agencies to hold back or redirect the flow of water in and out of Lake Okeechobee and start the process of cleaning up the algal blooms.

The unprecedented toxic algae forced thousands of Floridians to change their plans for the 4th of July holiday at the beach. Bathtub Beach, for example, was closed to swimmers, and the overall economic impact is growing every day.

The "guacamole-thick" algae invasion will be initially fought by the Army Corps of Engineers, who manage the Lake Okeechobee.

"The problem with Lake Okeechobee has existed for more than eighty years now. What we are dealing with here is a man-made disaster. The will of the people has shifted from 'Save Our River' to a permanent solution to 'Buy The Land'," state Citizens for Clean Water, a non-governmental organization which seeks to end the Lake Okeechobee discharges.

"The land we wish to purchase is located south of Lake Okeechobee and located in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) and needs to be purchased now with the cooperation of our elected officials, the state of Florida and our Federal Government."

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