Mote discloses truth about Boca Grande’s impact from blue-green algae: There is none

July 27, 2018
By Marcy Shortuse

There’s a lot of information flying around social media regarding the potential impact the cyanobacteria (freshwater blue-green algae) pouring from the Caloosahatchee River are having on our red tide bloom. Many are saying this is the worst they have ever seen the K. brevis bloom on our shores, and they are attributing the toxic blue-green algae from the Lake Okeechobee discharges to making it worse.
When asked what the probability of that happening was, a spokesperson from Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium said the two really don’t mix.
“There is no known direct relationship between the freshwater blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms and Karenia brevis blooms,” said Stacy Alexander, assistant vice president for community relations and communications at Mote. “Karenia brevis is a single-celled phytoplankton belonging to the dinoflagellates. The blue-green algae are a group of photosynthesizing bacteria (the cyanobacteria) that includes numerous species, many of which are capable of producing a variety of toxins, mainly in freshwater environments.”
What that means is that comparing the two is like comparing lions and ducks, essentially, in the algae world.
She continued: “Freshwater cyanobacteria and K. brevis occupy different habitats, especially where salinity is concerned. It is unlikely that either could survive in the other’s environment, and therefore they would not be expected to have any direct influence on each other.”
Dr. Vince Lovko from Mote added that their current water-monitoring program developed in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute does not include analysis of cyanobacteria in coastal water.
“Generally, it would not be expected to find freshwater cyanobacteria in coastal waters due to the salinity difference,” he said.