Large plume of brown water from Elsa seen moving into the Gulf of Mexico
LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Discolored water from Tropical Storm Elsa was seen over the Gordon River in Naples as it meets the Gulf of Mexico. The same thing is happening in Lee County.
A similar plume meeting the waters of the Gulf of Mexico was seen at the Sanibel Causeway, as the freshwater makes its way from the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.
When Dr. Barry Rosen from FGCU’s Water School first saw the aerial photos of the brown water, he wasn’t surprised.
“I think thats a very natural phenomenon that happens when you have relatively clean ocean water and then you have a big runoff that happens,” he said.
That big runoff was Elsa, which dumped up to 12 inches of water over Lee County alone but as the flood waters recede, they bring with them organic material, turning the water brown.
“The Caloosahatchee River or any of the smaller tributaries to the ocean you would see that kind of coloration,” Rosen added.
But with the runoff, comes the nutrients from farms and landscaping, which some worry could fuel future algal blooms.
“So those nutrients dissolved in the water can be used by any algae, whether it be red tide or cyanobacteria living in a marine environment,” Rosen said.
As far as when the next bloom might be, both SCCF and FGCU said its possible we could see a bloom as a result of the runoff from Elsa, but with so many factors involved, they said we’ll just have to wait and see.
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