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'It hasn't been a guacamole year' on Lake Okeechobee, contrary to reports, scientist says


It's not as bad as you may have heard.


An internationally renowned water quality scientist says that, contrary to what some national media has been reporting this summer, Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River are having a rather average year in terms of toxic blue-green algae blooms.


Pockets of algae have popped up in recent weeks, but Barry Rosen, a professor and researcher at Florida Gulf Coast University, said stories like ones that appeared last week in the New York Times are wrong, that Lake Okeechobee is not suffering from a particularly strong bloom this year.


"The best way to know is to look at the satellite imagery and it shows there's hardly any out there," Rosen said of images taken regularly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. "And it's really surprising. It doesn't seem to be a big bloom year for the lake."


How does Lake Okeechobee's bloom look now?

At times it looked like this summer might be a tough one as blooms have popped up in localized areas.

But Rosen said the overall picture is relatively positive from a blue-green algae perspective.


"Downstream in Cape Coral, that had a high microsystin concentrations," Rose said of blue-green algae. "But it hasn't been a guacamole year. It's been hot enough to be a guacamole year, but it hasn't been."


The latest NOAA imagery shows a low to moderate bloom on the lake, with the highest concentrations being on the northeast side.


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