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Hunting & FishingOwning Land

The Good and Bad Algae in Florida’s Freshwaters

October 22, 2019

There’s been a lot of talk on the news lately about algae. You might’ve heard about harmful algae that have led to the death of several family pets after going swimming in a local lake. Or toxic algae that has closed down some of Florida’s beaches over the summer.

It’s a topic that has recently gained more attention, and with its rapid growth, it’s important to know the difference between the good and bad algae in Florida’s freshwaters.

The Good Algae

Algae are plant-like organisms that grow in water or damp environments. They are normally harmless and act as the main source of food for a lot of fish and other aquatic life. They’re also essential to the ecosystem in Florida’s freshwaters.

However, too dense of these algae can deplete oxygen levels which then cause fish to become stressed and die. There are also certain algae varieties such as blue-green algae that, if left uncontrolled/untreated, can be very dangerous.

The Bad Algae

Blue-green algae can be found in freshwater environments such as lakes and rivers. This variety of algae is actually cyanobacteria, which means that they get their “food” from photosynthesis – just like plants do. They can produce toxins that can be dangerous to humans, animals, and fish.

These algae can grow exponentially in extremely hot conditions or when too many nutrients are present. This causes what is known as algal blooms. These blooms can get so big that they can be seen from space. In 2011, for example, Lake Erie experienced a cyanobacteria outbreak that led Ohio officials to ban the use of drinking water for over 400,000 residents in the area.

Controlling Algae

There are a variety of ways you can control algae. Physical treatments like aeration and air lifts will help control the spread of them. However, this summer, the Army Corps of Engineers is employing a new way to combat toxic algae in Lake Okeechobee. The process is called “dissolved air flotation” in which billions and billions of microscopic air bubbles are attached to the solids. It imparts buoyancy to the solids, and those solids float to the surface. When they float to the surface, they are skimmed off.

To make this sustainable over the long term, the Army Corps of Engineers is looking at possible uses for the tons of algae removed from the lake, including converting the algae into biofuel or using the algae in consumer products like yoga mats or sneakers. The ultimate goal is to develop scalable solutions to the problem and make sure there are technologies that can be applied nationwide, not just in South Florida.

If you have any more questions about the algae in Florida’s freshwaters, please feel free to reach out.

About the Author
Randy Baumgartner joined National Land Realty in 2019. Randy was born and raised in Tampa, Florida and grew up appreciating the outdoors. He spent many holidays and summers hunting and fishing with his grandfather, the manager of the Conner Ranch in Pasco County, which is now Connerton. Randy has a diverse background in real estate having worked for developers, builders, investors, and banks. Randy learned the value of hard work, integrity, and attention to detail from his father, a Florida real estate broker in Tampa for over 40 years. Randy is passionate about going above and beyond in providing his clients with the best representation whether they are buying or selling. Randy is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited and a veteran of the Florida Army National Guard. Randy and his wife, Betty Ann, have been married 30 years and currently live in Odessa, Florida. They have two grown sons, Charlie and Christopher. When Randy isn’t working, he enjoys family get-togethers, traveling, and local sporting events, especially the Tampa Bay Rays and Buccaneers. View Randy's Listings and Reviews on