News Feature | August 15, 2018

In Florida, Thousands Join Algae Protest

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

beach reg new

Thousands of Florida residents joined together for a demonstration on Sunday conveying a commitment to clean water.

Algae was a central issue that motivated people from all over the state to take part in what organizers called the “hands along the water” event, according to NBC 2.

“More than 30 different beaches along Florida's coast served as the setting for the show of solidarity, Southwest Florida included. More than 500 people gathered on Fort Myers Beach, with others gathered on Sanibel and other areas impacted by the recent algae crisis,” the report stated.

Algae has sparked major concern across the state.

“Siesta Key's white sugar sand beaches are now layered with a brown film. The crystal clear water has turned green. The gulf's animated marine life now lay lifeless in the sand,” ABC 7 reported.

Policies related to Lake Okeechobee are at the center of the algae crisis.

“Lake Okeechobee, polluted from decades of agricultural fertilizers and manure, sends algae-laden water to coastal communities through the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. The algae can cause fish kills and harm people too, generating toxins that can lead to nausea and cause liver and neurological problems,” The Sun-Sentinel reported.

“Sunday’s event focused on the damage done to wildlife, homes and beaches when algae-tainted water is released from Lake Okeechobee,” the report stated.

Ecowatch explained the origin of algae on Okeechobee.

“In Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, man-made nutrient pollution from their watersheds is causing the blooms. Very high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are washing into the water from agricultural lands, leaky septic systems and fertilizer runoff,” the report stated.

Participants held hands and wore blue to mark their commitment to clean water. They lined the shoreline during the demonstration.

Image credit: "Taken at Baginbun Head," david bergin © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/