Lake Okeechobee algae bloom is toxic

On Friday Florida DEP confirmed that the algal bloom in Lake Okeechobee off Clewiston tested positive for microcystin. The algae is toxic.

The news went largely unreported. The concentration of toxins in the sample was relatively low at 1.4 ppb, but also roughly double the findings of previous algae tests around the lake. And the blooms are spreading.

NASA reported that algae covered nearly half of the lake’s 730-square-mile surface. Independent satellite photography shows the Clewiston bloom (below) extending across the southern and eastern shores.

Aerial photography taken yesterday (image below) shows even more, including mats of algae clotting the surface of the C-44 canal into the St. Lucie River. That algae was sampled for toxicity on Thursday, June 21. The results aren’t publicly available yet, but the algae was released this morning into the St. Lucie River.

Glen Low