Rare algae in canals in Marco and Port Royal not seen in Florida before

Blooms of Takayama tuberculata have turned the water a rust red color in a canal on the west side of Copperfield Court on Marco, turned the water yellow in canals around Gin Lane in Port Royal neighborhood off Naples Bay and contain strings of white, mucous-like material.

Blooms of Takayama tuberculata have turned the water a rust red color in a canal on the west side of Copperfield Court on Marco, turned the water yellow in canals around Gin Lane in Port Royal neighborhood off Naples Bay and contain strings of white, mucous-like material.

Update:5:55 p.m.

The list of algae species that Florida scientists track is getting longer with the discovery of blooms of a rare and potentially harmful algae on Marco Island and in Naples.

Blooms of Takayama tuberculata have turned the water a rust red color in a canal on the west side of Copperfield Court on Marco, turned the water yellow in canals around Gin Lane in Port Royal neighborhood off Naples Bay and contain strings of white, mucous-like material.

That’s about all scientists can say about it though.

“It’s never been recorded in Florida before,” Florida Wildlife Research Institute senior research scientist Cynthia Heil said Thursday in St. Petersburg.

The institute, the science arm of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, already tests water samples from around the state for more than 70 algae species.

“This is one more we’ll add to the list,” Heil said.

Takayama blooms can produce the same sort of toxin associated with Florida red tides, but so far, the Marco and Naples Bay blooms have not caused any fish kills or complaints of human respiratory problems.

The county is awaiting results of toxin screens, expected next week, but is warning people with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema to avoid the areas of the algae blooms.

“Because we wanted to err on the safe side we’re just letting people know it’s out there,” Collier County pollution control specialist Rhonda Watkins said Thursday.

Neither red tide nor Takayama has been found in any beach samples collected this week, Watkins said. What triggered the Takayama blooms is unknown, she said.

The Marco Island bloom was first reported in early May, before the onset of summer rainy patterns; the Port Royal bloom was reported late last week, Watkins said.

The Port Royal bloom seemed to have diminished by Thursday, when Naples water monitors returned to the bloom to take new samples.

“We had a hard time finding it,” Naples Natural Resources Manager Mike Bauer said.

Heil, at the Florida Wildlife Research Institute, said the bloom could have been caused by nutrient pollution from fertilizer runoff or changes in water temperature. Algae also can be carried from one spot to another in ballast water of boats, she said.

“It’s really hard to say anything conclusive based on one bloom,” Heil said.

From earlier

Collier County pollution monitors are keeping an eye on two algae blooms on Marco Island and in the Port Royal neighborhood along Naples Bay.

The blooms of Takayama tuberculata, the first ever reported in Collier County, have been confirmed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission scientists in a canal on the west side of Copperfield Court on Marco and in canals around Gin Lane in Port Royal, pollution control worker Rhonda Watkins said this afternoon.

She said the blooms can produce the same sort of toxin associated with Florida red tides but so far have not caused any fish kills or complaints of human respiratory problems.

The county is awaiting results of toxin screens, expected next week, but are warning people with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema to avoid the areas of the algae blooms.

The bloom is recognizable by a yellow to rust red color in the water, sometimes accompanied by strings of white, mucous-like material, according to this week's red tide report from Collier County.

Neither red tide nor Takayama has been found in any beach samples collected this week, Watkins said. What triggered the Takayama blooms is unknown, she said.

The Marco Island bloom was first reported in early May, before the onset of summer rainy patterns; the Naples Bay blooms was reported late last week, Watkins said.

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