Gulf of Mexico
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FL - Blue-green algae bloom in Manatee waters likely linked to Piney Point, scientists say

While toxic red tide algae continues to strengthen in the open waters of Tampa Bay, there’s another potentially harmful algal bloom that is catching the attention of residents closer to shore.

While toxic red tide algae continues to strengthen in the open waters of Tampa Bay, there’s another potentially harmful algal bloom that is catching the attention of residents closer to shore.

It’s called Lyngbya, and scientists say the blue-green algae is growing at an alarming rate in waters around Manatee and Sarasota counties — possibly because of polluted wastewater released earlier this spring from Piney Point.

That could be a disaster for the area’s fragile marine ecosystems, according to David Tomasko, executive director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

“It ranks up there with the 2018 red tide in terms of how bad it is for the health of the bay,” Tomasko said. “The Lyngbya is impacting a part of the bay that is already having to recover from that red tide. The last thing in the world we needed was this.”

Like red tide, Lyngbya is naturally occurring in Southwest Florida waters. But excess nutrient pollution can cause an abnormally large bloom. A bigger bloom in turn amplifies negative side effects from the algae, which can release toxins that hurt humans and marine life, cause fish kills and block sunlight vital to seagrass beds.

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