MDEQ tests show blue-green algae present along some beaches after Barry; more testing this week

MDEQ tests show blue-green algae present along some beaches after Barry; more testing this week
Parish leaders are concerned about the health of the seafood industry in southeast Louisiana. (Source: WVUE)

GULF COAST, Miss. (WLOX) - For months, WLOX has been reporting the latest information on the algae bloom that has affected every beach on the Gulf Coast. As a result of the algae bloom, the entire shoreline of the Mississippi Gulf Coast went under warning late last month.

With Barry brushing by the Mississippi coast and stirring up waters, many have wondered what that could do to the harmful algal bloom.

MDEQ spent Sunday morning collecting water samples for testing.

As of Sunday night, the rain and surge from Barry didn’t do much to chase away the algae bloom in the Mississippi Sound, according to Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

MDEQ spokesman Robbie Wilbur tells WLOX News Now that while not all beach stations were checked, the samples that were taken indicated a continued presence of the algae bloom in Jackson County beaches and in Biloxi.

He said sampling will continue Monday for the rest of the beaches, and the agency will alert the public when there are any changes to the water-contact warnings currently in place.

In addition, the agency warns if you see any algae that has washed onto the beach do not touch it. They do ask that you immediately alert MDEQ or any Emergency Management Agency office.

One of the factors that plays a roll in how the blue-green algae can survive in the Mississippi Sound is salinity.

According to some of the USGS sensors, some areas began to see an increase in salinity between July 10-13. However, trends on Sunday evening, July 14, showed some sites salinity levels dropping again.

The harmful algal bloom is a result of nutrient rich fresh water intruding the Mississippi Sound due to the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. That opening caused salinity levels to drop, allowing the algae, which likes freshwater, to grow.

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