Blue-green algae . Red Tide. And now, we’ve got Oscillatoria bacteria.
But there’s good news!
This bacteria is a type of blue-green algae that is usually non-toxic.
FGCU ecological professor Dr. Serge Thomas said its generally rare to have just one species of algae at a time, so this isn’t unheard of.
“Normally it shouldn’t be toxic but you still have the same problem where it blankets the top of the water,” Dr. Thomas said. “It can still decay and smells pretty bad when it does decay. If it’s smelly it doesn’t mean that it’s toxic.”
The Oscillatoria algae is usually non-toxic but scientists are still checking into the kind in the Caloosahatchee River to make sure.
“I’ve seen lakes infested with Oscillatoria on the surface did not really affect the manatees,” Dr. Thomas said. “I mean they poke their nose through the surface, they have all these algae on them but not like Microcystins where it’s toxic.”
This specific bacteria clumps together on the surface of the water making it easier to clean.
“I would just be cautious.”
“The good thing is it’s harvestable, it’s easier to harvest. You can rake it. You can’t really rake microcystin because the algae will go through the rake, but with oscillatoria when they form blankets you can actually rake that,” Dr. Thomas said. “I would just be cautious.”
For now, we can add this bacteria to the list of algae in our waterways.
Cover photo credit: Kristian Peters