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Algae blooms on the rise across Florida, Tampa Bay area

Multiple blooms were reported in the mouth of the Manatee River near Bradenton.
Credit: Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The blue dots show the most recently reported algae blooms.

Algae blooms are increasing in the Tampa Bay area, particularly in the waters around Bradenton, according to state officials.

The most recent data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows multiple blooms reported in the past month in the mouth of the Manatee River.

Another hot spot for blooms in the state is Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River, which leads from the Everglades to the Gulf Coast near Cape Coral. 

DEP officials, however, reported Friday that satellite images showed conditions were improving on Okeechobee. They also said the Manatee River conditions were also improving.

The Bradenton River, however, had a green tint, and officials will test the water when weather conditions improve. 

A bloom was seen last week near Bayshore Boulevard and Rome Avenue in Tampa.

Health officials say blue-green algae grows naturally in Florida waterways, although large concentrations can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Experts say blooms can appear year-round but are more often seen in the summer or fall. They typically disappear on their own. 

Some -- but not all -- blue-green algae blooms produce toxins that can affect people. The blooms hurt the environment by lowering the oxygen content of the water and blocking sunlight for underwater plants.

If there is good news, it's that red tide is still at low levels across the state. The only observable levels were seen in Sarasota and Lee counties, the state said.

You can report algae blooms on the DEP website.

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