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Water-Related News

Is more algae mucking up Tampa Bay? Scientists need to track it first

Long-term macroalgae monitoring is another gap in research revealed in the year since the Piney Point release.

TIERRA VERDE – Tangled, brown mats of algae drift around Shell Key Preserve.

Cormorants dive past dark clumps to chase bait fish. The algae swallow seagrass beds, looking like wet hair in a shower drain.

Kayakers who drift too close feel the heaps tug at their paddles.

To Peter Clark, the algae mats seem worse than he’s seen in about 20 years. As president of Tampa Bay Watch, a conservation nonprofit headquartered at the edge of Shell Key Preserve, he has watched the muck float ashore in smelly piles.

Macroalgae have appeared to be more prevalent than usual around some parts of Tampa Bay this year, according to reports from captains and environmental advocates. Scientists cannot say for certain whether that’s a sign of trouble for the ecosystem.