Scientists to test samples of thick green algae spotted in Bonita Springs
Slimy, thick green algae arrived in bulk in Bonita Springs on Saturday, clogging Hogue Channel and making residents there furious. Longtime residents said they have never seen anything like it. They thought it only happened in Cape Coral.
"I have been here for 22 years, and I have never seen it," said Jan Bachrach. "This is disgusting."
"This is the worst I have ever seen," added her husband, Grant Bachrach.
By Sunday the main part of Hogue Channel was clear again. The thick algae had moved to a much smaller canal off Hogue where it sat thick and stagnant under boat docks and piled up along the end of the canal.
But experts don’t think this is the same as the toxic blue-green algae that has festered in Cape Coral for about two months now.
Bob Wasno, facilities manager of Florida Gulf Coast University's Vester Marine Field Station in Bonita Springs, believes it is something different. He said the algae in Cape Coral is in fresh water; Hogue Channel has high salinity levels.
"Yuck," Wasno said. "I can’t identify it, but I can say I haven’t seen that in a marine environment."
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FGCU collected water samples and will look at them Monday, said Michael Parsons, professor of marine science and director of FGCU's Coastal Watershed Institute.
"Different green algae, I think," he said.
Adam Botana, owner of Bay Water Boat Club, doesn’t know what it is either.
"I don’t believe we get blue-green algae where we are," he said. "I am not sure that it is the same kind. The blue-green algae is in a freshwater source. I don’t think it is the same as they have in the Cape. If it is, we’ve got problems."
Toxic blue-green algae has festered in south Cape Coral for about two months now. The bloom began on Lake Okeechobee in June and moved to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers that were connected to the lake many decades ago to drain the Everglades for development and farming.
By July and August it had gotten much worse. Health officials were closing beaches in Cape Coral, and residents were heading indoors as they began having trouble breathing.
But those in Bonita Springs always felt this was something that would not happen to them. That’s what they believed until they saw their own channel turn green.
"It’s just disgusting," Bachrach concluded.
Another resident said she didn’t want her name used because she is selling her home and doesn’t want the stigma of living on a channel with algae. But she has lived there for 27 years and said she was shocked to see algae in the channel that is usually clean and clear.
"I have never seen this before," she cried before heading inside, saying the algae was making her feel sick.
Larry Freels, a longtime member of Bay Water Boat Club, was driving a pontoon boat back to the marina Saturday through Hogue Channel when he spotted the thick green algae.
He said it was the first time he’d ever seen the channel with algae since he became a boat club member in 2007.
"South of New Pass we saw it," he said. "And the other thing is, other than a couple of dolphins I didn’t see any anything, not a fish. We went through Hogue Channel and saw it (algae) unfortunately. It is disappointing."