FL - CBS12 News Exclusive: Fly-over of Lake Okeechobee to view 300 square mile algal bloom

In a rare moment, CBS12 News got an exclusive aerial view of a cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Okeechobee that is now estimated at 300 square miles, the size of New York City, from the cockpit of a plane that flies over the lake to document its water conditions for political leaders and conservation groups.

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On one of the hottest days in 2021, so far, a severe cyanobacteria bloom on the south end of the lake was seen from the plane Tuesday morning.

Researchers said right now, the conditions in Lake Okeechobee are perfect for that bloom to grow quickly.

Certain environmental conditions in bodies of water, like an extensive amount of nutrients from runoff and extremely hot weather conditions, can intensify algae growth, causing algal blooms.

Blooms with the potential to harm human health or aquatic ecosystems are referred to as harmful algal blooms or HABs.

In freshwater systems, cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, are microorganisms that can produce HABs.

Some cyanobacterial HABs, or cyanoHABs, can produce toxins.

CyanoHABs and their toxins can harm people, animals, aquatic ecosystems, the economy, drinking water supplies, property values, and recreational activities including swimming, both commercial and recreational fishing.

What could possibly be toxic blue-green algae was observed on the canal side of the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam in Martin County on Tuesday. That canal funnels water from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Lock and Dam on the Treasure Coast, which dumps water into the St. Lucie estuary when discharges are in full swing.

This as an algal bloom outbreak that’s 100-times more toxic than federal health advisory limits is reported at the Pahokee City Marina.

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