When toxic algae blooms, who warns people to stay out of the water?
Though huge blooms of blue-green algae have been making headlines lately, one place communication about their potential dangers is less clear is on the waterfront.
More than a week into the worst bloom in recent memory, people are still swimming, fishing and boating in the green-slimed river as municipalities try to figure out who's supposed to educate people about its potentially grave risks.
Last Thursday, with no signs or barriers warning them not to, Carson Wallace,15, and Will Wiggins,19, unloaded their personal watercraft at the Alva boat ramp. They weren't worried about the bloom, they told The News-Press.
Later that week, Lee County's Natural Resources department posted warnings at the ramp as well as two other public access points, the Davis Boat Ramp in Fort Myers Shores and Caloosahatchee Regional Park in Alva. However, in some places, there are still no barriers or signs warning of danger, even though the kind of algae now polluting the Caloosahatchee is decidedly toxic, says Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani.
As the Fourth of July holiday looms, Cassani's anxiety has surged.
Photo credit: Earth Justice, 2011