A major outbreak of a blue-green harmful algal bloom has officials keeping a close eye on the beaches across the Gulf Coast. Four beach locations in Hancock County and five beaches in Harrison County have taken precautionary measures by urging residents to stay out of the water.
Officials are monitoring as the blue-green harmful algal bloom continues to spread and grow throughout the Coast. This is something new for the Department of Marine Resources because they have never seen this type of algae in the Gulf. Marine Fisheries Deputy Director Rick Burris said, “We haven’t seen this particular species. By all accounts this is a freshwater species.”
Officials advise people and their pets to stay out of the water due to the many negative side effects it can cause. DMR officials believe this algal bloom started due to the fresh water from the Bonnet Carre Spillway. “Most likely from the freshwater intrusion from the Bonnet Carre Spillway. These algal bloom usually occur when you have the nutrient rich fresh water enter into our sound.”
This algae isn’t only affecting swimming, businesses on the beach are also suffering like the owner of Tropical Treats, Richard Valvez. He’s been doing business on the Coast for many years. “Remember all of us down here, all of the beach vendors, this is how we make our living. We have a short time to do any and when we have something like this, it really puts a big impact on our business.”
Richard says he’s only ever seen a hit this big to beach vendors one other time. “I’ve been in business here about 25 years and probably the BP Oil Spill, that affected us about the same way that we are seeing here now.”
The DMR says that they have not detected any of this algae on the Barrier Islands yet.