algae bloom

North Miami Algae Blooms Part of a ‘Vicious Cycle': Scientists

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Local and state agencies are testing the water in a North Miami Beach canal after a recent algae bloom.

Longtime North Miami Beach resident, Silvia Vanni, used to record videos of sharks and stingrays roaming the water behind her home on the Sans Sousi Canals that pour into Biscayne Bay.

Now, the water looks like a thick, murky, uninhabitable mess.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never, ever seen anything like this," said Vanni.

She wasn't just talking about the algae bloom that emerged behind her home a few days ago.

“The fish kill last week was definitely something I’ve never seen before," Vanni said.

Seeing first, the fish kills, and then the algae bloom is especially difficult for her. Vanni says she lost her 7-year-old son Salvatore to cancer in 2011. She remembers his love for the sharks they would see. She fears now for their well-being.

“To think they are dying it’s heartbreaking and very difficult."

Environmental investigators with various local, state and federal agencies are looking into the algae blooms and the fish kills. Miami Waterkeeper, a nonprofit environmental group, says both events are part of a biological loop.

“That’s a vicious cycle or decline for the bay,” said Miami Waterkeeper General Counsel Kelly Cox. “So, what that means is the nutrient pollution kills the seagrass and feeds algae overgrowth, the bacteria causes low amounts of oxygen, low oxygen kills the fish, the decaying fish causes more bacteria and more algae and the cycle continues to repeat and repeat.”

Another agency working to figure out what’s going in Biscayne Bay is the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management. They collected water samples on Saturday and are investigating the algae bloom and fish kills separately for now.

“We need to understand what’s driving both of those events, and so until we have a better grasp on sort of what the origin of those verbs are it will be harder to link them so we are investigating them separately at this time," said DERM's Pamela Sweeney.

As for Vanni and many other South Florida residents calling in to report the algae bloom, the hope is for answers to surface soon.

“There is no way any marine life can live in this," Vanni said.

Miami Waterkeeper advises to stay away from coming in contact with this water, or eating any fish or shell fish from the bay at this time. Miami-Dade county says you can call the complaint line at 305-372-6955.

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