Recent satellite images of Lake O algal blooms may be deceiving
SANIBEL, Fla. – NOAA’s satellite images of Lake Okeechobee’s algal blooms may not show the whole picture.
A satellite image taken on May 11th showed toxic algae covering more than half of the lake. 500 square miles were green, yellow, or red on the image.
On May 24th, only 150 square miles of the lake were covered in a bloom. It could make viewers think the bloom is shrinking or going away, but that is not the case, experts said.
The lake is lowering quickly with the recent dry weather in Southwest Florida. The wind is pushing the blooms around and may be avoiding detection by satellite.
“The wind can stir up the algae and satellites don’t actually pick up the algae sitting below the surface,” Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Environmental Policy Director James Evans said. “They’re picking up the algal biomass that’s sitting on top of the water.”
Evans said the blooms haven’t reached peak intensity yet. He believes the blooms could get worse as the water heats up this summer.
“We’re continuing to watch that very closely. As the winds start to die down, that bloom potential could increase,” Evans said.
Evans said SWFL is in a much better spot than it was a month ago. He’s hoping for more dry weather so the lake can keep lowering quickly. Evans said the lower the lake, the lower the chances for a bloom.
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