Suncoast Waterkeeper and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper will hold a scientific forum this Friday, July 23, about harmful algae blooms, including red tide and Lyngbya. The talk will focus on causes, effects and solutions for these blooms.

The Suncoast and Tampa Bay regions were recently impacted by a blue-green algae bloom called Lyngbya that sucked the oxygen out of the marine environment, causing a stench and harming wildlife. It was followed by the current red tide event, which has killed fish and dolphins and caused respiratory and other health issues in humans. Both blooms affect the economy and the livelihoods of fishing captains, tour operators, aquaculture companies and tourist-related businesses.

Both also occurred after the dumping of nutrient rich water from Piney Point, a closed phosphogypsum stack, increased development and continued discharge of treated sewage.

"There’s a consensus that Piney Point played a major role," Suncoast Waterkeeper's Justin Bloom told us recently. "Elsa pushed things around and onto shorelines and contributed additional nutrient-laden stormwater, but in the summer that is usually mitigated by lower salinity from rainwater. I think the main driver here was Piney Point.”

Dr. Dave Tomasko, director of Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and Ed Sherwood, director of Tampa Bay Estuary Program, will be the presenters at the forum. The Waterkeeper organizations have also invited government officials, their staff and other stakeholders. The cost is $10 per person and the event is open to the public, but reservations are required. The forum will also be virtual and recorded.

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