MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – It could be unpleasant to swim in some bodies of water around Long Island this holiday weekend. Over-blooming algae has left many beach goers being greeted by “rust tide” and it’s putting a damper on some Labor Day plans.
“It’s brown, you’ll see it floating on top in areas. The last five or ten years it’s getting worse,” boater John Doezal told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
In the Great South Bay off Patchogue, you can actually see blue waters turning mud-colored. It’s a symptom of a dreaded “rust tide” algae that suffocates marine life and is a sign of troubled waters.
Stony Brook University marine scientist Christopher Gobler says the disruptive algae blooms are being fueled by warmer temperatures each year. “Every summer we see these temperatures that we didn’t see in the 20th century but are ideal for the growth of this organism,” Gobler explained.
Throughout the country, algae blooms are described as severe. Long Island’s rust tide has reportedly killed off thousands of east end oysters. Blue-green algae blooms are also affecting fresh water lakes and ponds in the area. Runoff from fertilizer and outdated septic systems are also believed to be triggering the blooms when temperatures rise.
While scientists weigh the long term implications of rust tide, health officials are warning locals to avoid the algae in fresh water areas. The organisms can be toxic to pets and humans.