A dramatic decrease in algal blooms is indicated on the July 6 satellite image of Lake Okeechobee by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The July 6 image indicates a area of about 60 square miles with algal bloom potential. Just a day before, the July 5 NOAA image indicated algal bloom coverage of 360 square miles.
It’s not unusual for algal blooms on the big lake to change quickly.
What causes an algal bloom die off? Cloudy days, wind and rain can cause algae to die off. A large bloom may also die off after consuming the available nitrogen in the water.
This summer, the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been treating small areas with dense blooms – mostly in canals, marinas or water control structures – with algaecide. A pelleted form of hydrogen peroxide is used to dissipate the bloom.
The NOAA images are derived from Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite data from the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and are processed by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. The NOAA computer program uses the data collected by the satellite images to postulate the potential for algal blooms.
The satellite images are a snapshot of Lake Okeechobee at a moment in time on a given day. Fishermen have noted that an area shown in red on the map, indicating high potential for an algal bloom, may not have any visible algae at all. Cyanobacteria cannot move on their own. They are pushed by wind and carried by water flow. Cyanobaterica can rise and fall in the water by inflating and deflating gas vesicles.
The FDEP Algae Bloom dashboard is online at https://floridadep.gov/AlgalBloom
The NOAA satellite images are online at: coastalscience.noaa.gov.
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