Posted by: Vicki Burns | January 16, 2014

Algae Warnings Spoiling Some Florida Vacations

I was sent this article about bad algal blooms along the southwest coast of Florida, in particular Fort Myers Beach. Its an area that I have some personal connection with as members of my family have been enjoying wintering near there for several decades. I had personal experience with some red tide blooms in the fall of 2012 while visiting and after looking into it, realized that the causes of blue-green algae, macroalgae ( as reported in this article) and red tide(Karenia brevis) are very similar. They’re all brought about by too much nutrient( phosphorus and nitrogen) running off our landscapes and getting into the water.

Bonita Beach, photo courtesy of Travel Tidings Florida

Bonita Beach, photo courtesy of Travel Tidings Florida

Today I received another piece of news from an area close to Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, where they are commenting on the fact that they’ve already spent $2million over the past year trying to remove thick blue-green algae from the Sunrise Waterway in Port Charlotte but they anticipate it will cost an additional $1million to complete the work. There is no mention of how they plan to stop the continual growth of the algae that is fed by too much phosphorus and nitrogen, coming from sewage, fertilizers, animal waste and run-off from the land.
The costs of not intercepting the excess nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen at source, are building in so many areas around North America. I don’t often see reports about blue-green algae blooms in some of the European countries that have invested heavily in upgrading their sewage treatment and in managing their animal manure in very careful ways.  I hope to learn more about that in the near future and share what I’ve learned. There is so much more we could be doing in this part of the world and so many good reasons to get going on it sooner rather than later.



  1. Your blog is very informative, Vicky. Thanks so much for taking the time to help us understand the science and learn about others’ experiences. It’s now on my ‘favourites’.

  2. Thank you for the information about this issue in Florida waters. However, be cautious on broad statements about the EU. While they have a similar mandate about sewage handling as in the US, many countries are way, way behind. Even Brussels, the capital of Europe, only has sewage treatment for one-third of residents and that project was only completed about 7 years ago.

    • Thank you for informing me of the situation in Brussels and likely elsewhere in the EU. I should be careful about making any broad statements!

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