Water-Related News

Experts remain concerned about algae in Matlacha water

While the surface of Matlacha’s water is clearing up, experts say it’s a different story beneath the surface.

Pilot Ralph Arwood with Calusa Waterkeeper took recent aerial video above Matlacha, and it showed milky algae patches on the water’s surface.

Rick Bartleson, a research scientist with Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, told us Tuesday the algae we saw in Matlacha Pass a couple weeks ago is sinking to the bottom and decomposing. That, combined with other bacteria in the water, creates a white-colored patch on the water. While the algae at the top doesn’t look as bad, the environmental concern remains.

“There’s so many, so many of those bacteria in the water is making the water look white,” Bartleson said. “There’s also particles of algae mixed in those look white when the when the algae decomposes, the pigments are gone, and just the white shows left.”

Bartleson said, if algae is on the surface and not underwater, hydrogen sulfide is released into the air.

“And that becomes a problem if people are around breathing it because hydrogen sulfide is toxic at levels above one part per million,” Bartleson said.

Because it’s sinking to the bottom, it’s more of a problem for the surrounding environment.