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Algal Blooms in Chowan River Spark Concern

Department of Environmental Quality officials recommend the public steer clear of the green or blue water in the Chowan River from an algal bloom. Photo: Contributed

Officials with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced June 23 that they are urging the public to avoid contact with green or blue water in the Chowan River due to an algal bloom that has lingered in the area since June 12.

The algal bloom extends along the eastern side of the river from the Arrowhead Beach area south to Edenton, then continues east hugging the shoreline until just beyond the N.C. 32 bridge.

Staff with the agency’s water sciences program have been monitoring the bloom. The algae have been identified as Anabaena, a member of the blue-green family of algae. Algal blooms of this type usually appear bright green, however, when a bloom starts to decay, the color can change to a milky blue. The decaying algae produces a strong, foul odor that can affect a large area.

North Carolina has had no reports of adverse health effects in people associated with this algal bloom, state officials said.

State health officials routinely encourage the public to avoid contact with large accumulations of algae and prevent children and pets from swimming or ingesting water in an algal bloom.

State water quality and health officials suggest the following steps to safeguard pets and children from any algal bloom:

  • Keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, blue, discolored or scummy.
  • Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.
  • Avoid handling, cooking or eating dead fish that may be present.
  • If you come into contact with an algal bloom, wash thoroughly.
  • Use clean water to rinse off pets that may have come into contact with an algal bloom.
  • If your child appears ill after being in waters containing an algal bloom, seek medical care immediately.
  • If your pet appears to stumble, stagger or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river, seek veterinary care immediately.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.