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Martin DOH Issues Another Health Alert After More Toxic Algae Is Found in the St. Lucie Estuary

Congressman Brian Mast's Facebook page

Martin County - Tuesday April 2, 2024: The Florida Department of Health in Martin County (DOH-Martin) has issued another health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algae toxins in an additional two areas of the St. Lucie Estuary.

The alert was issued after water samples taken last Thursday, March 28, by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found the presence of toxic algae in the St Lucie Canal, Army Corp Campground, and in the St Lucie River, Harborage.

St. Lucie Canal - Army Corp Campground
Martin DOH
St. Lucie Canal - Army Corp Campground
St. Lucie River - Harborage
Martin DOH
St. Lucie River - Harborage

Beginning on Saturday February 17th, up until this past Saturday, March 30, the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had been releasing water from Lake Okeechobee, down the St. Lucie Estuary, at the rate of 1,800 cubic feet per second, on average.

Those releases are blamed for the outbreak of blue-green algae toxins in three areas of Martin County last week, which prompted the Department of Health's first alert.

The USACE paused releases of Lake O water this past Saturday for what they said would be a period of two-weeks, and possibly longer.

Treasure Coast Congressman Brian Mast has called for a long term halt.

Precautions to Prevent Contamination by Toxic Algae

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook the fish to proper temperature.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

To see sample results and report an algal bloom, visit: 

What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when the rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors. 

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions, and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins. 

Is it harmful?
Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals. 

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit 

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.

What do I do if I see an algal bloom?
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511. 

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately. 

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water. 

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Martin County at 772-221-4000.