Change Text Size Change font size: Normal Text Medium Text Large Text

Algae in the Caloosahatchee in 2011

On July 7, 2011, Earthjustice and the Florida Water Coalition wrote the U.S. Congress about the situation in the Caloosahatchee.  There are two issues affecting the river:  one is Lake Okeechobee and the other is attempts to control the nutrient pollution that fuels the algal blooms when conditions are right.  Numeric Nutrient Criteria are needed to quantify and limit nutrients in the river.  The FWC letter focused on Numeric Nutrient Criteria.  On July 14, a group of Florida industries wrote the Florida Congressional delegation disputing the FWC letter.  In July 28, Rae Ann Wessel responded to that letter in the Island Reporter.  Click here to read all three documents.

July 26, 2011
The Lee County Health Department has replaced water warnings with a caution.

July 18, 2011
The rain over the past couple of weeks meant that water is being released through the Franklin Lock (from the Caloosahatchee watershed, not from Lake O).  The algae east of the Lock has begun to clear and also to be pushed west through the lock.  Photos below of the river near Alva and LaBelle look pretty clear of algae, but the photo just east of the Franklin Lock still shows streaks of blue-green algae in the water.  The photo of the dead crab was taken west of the lock.  The cause of death is not known but it is likely that the crab died after eating something affected by the toxins in the algae.

The freshwater now flowing west of the lock has lowered salinities but the  freshwater sits in a wedgelike layer over the high-salinity water, blocking oxygen from reaching the bottom of the water column.  This creates low or no oxygen conditions in the water, which can kill fish and other organisms. 

The health advisories remain in place for the Caloosahatchee pending toxicology tests of water samples taken last week.

Lee County health advisory for Caloosahatchee.  Warning signs were posted by the Caloosahatchee on June 9.   On June 10, Hendry and Glades counties also issued a health advisory.

Freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee were cut off on March 6 by the South Florida Water Management District.  To learn more about the connection between the river and lake, click here.  

For the river west of the Franklin Lock, lack of freshwater from the lake means that salinity levels become unnaturally high, damaging the natural system.

For the river east of the Franklin Lock, the river becomes two stagnant pools:  between the Lake and S-78 (the Ortona Lock); and between S-78 and S-79 (the Franklin Lock).  Stagnant water warmed by long summer days is ideal for algal blooms.

July 4, 2011

The warning sign is still posted by Franklin Lock but the water is accessible from several areas, as these two fishermen found out.

June 23, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.

The blue-green algae bloom is ongoing, as seen in these photos taken at the Franklin Lock and east of the Lock by Greg Rawl.

June 20
Photos at Franklin Lock and the Alva Bridge.

June 13, 2011

East of Franklin Lock, the river is a toxic, green smelly mess.  Dead fish -- jacks, mullet and sand bream -- are being found. 

There is a non-toxic dinoflaggelate bloom east of the lock.  Dead crabs and flounder are being found.

June 10, 2011

Glades and Hendry counties issued a health advisory.

June 7, 2011

On June 7, the Lee County Health Department issued a health advisory, recommending caution when coming into contact with the Caloosahatchee for the next week.  Click here for notice.

On June 7, John Cassani took aerial photos of the river.  The blue-green algae bloom east of the Franklin Lock (S-79) extends for about 50 miles and has turned the river into a green, smelly mess.  West of the lock, there is a non-toxic dinoflagellate bloom which has turned the water brown.

Photos of the blue-green algae east of the Franklin Lock:

Photo of the dinoflagellate bloom west of the Franklin Lock:

June 6, 2011

On June 6, SCCF Marine Lab Research Scientist Dr. Rick Bartleson took these photos near Franklin Lock.

June 2, 2011

On June 2, SCCF River Spotters Mike and Anita Buff took these photos east of the Alva bridge in Oxbow 11.
dockboat motor
algae 1algae 2

Lab scientists were out on the river on June 2 and were able to bring samples back to the Lab, where it was identified as Anabaena circinalis.

May 24:  Blooms of blue-green algae east of the Franklin Lock (Anabaena circinalis, Microcystis sp. and Aphanizomenon sp.).  West of the Franklin Lock, a bloom of Ceratium furca decreased in intensity towards the Cape Coral Bridge.

May 17:  Blooms of blue-green algae have been reported in the river east of the Franklin Lock (Anabaena circinalis, Microcystis sp. and Aphanizomenon sp.)  West of Franklin Lock, there is complete loss of the low-salinity zone.  Dinoflagellate bloom (Akashiwo sanguinea) west of S-79.  Blue-green algal bloom (Microcystis sp.), sampled by DEP and identified by FWRI reported in Daughtry Creek (tributary of Caloosahatchee on north side of river between U.S. 41 and I-75).

May 10:  Blooms of Anabaena algae are reported in Hickey Creek, area canals and in the vicinity of the Alva Bridge.

May 2:  The phytoplankton bloom extended upstream to S-79.  Elevated Chlorophyll (17 ug/l) was measured at Tarpon Point Pier.  (Chlorophyll a can be an indicator of algae.)  Upstream of S-79, chlorophyll was elevated at 14 ug/l.  Phytoplankton samples indicate predominantely green filamentous algae, some dinoflagellates including Prorocentrum and clumps of Microcystis.

By the end of April 2011, there was a dense phytoplankton bloom upstream of Fort Myers at Old Bridge and Beautiful Island.

Updated 7/20/11