October 23, 2020

Expert: Floodwater to blame for toxic algae growth making Mississippi beaches, seafood unsafe

An outbreak of toxic bacteria is ruining some beach plans in Mississippi, where authorities are warning people not to swim or eat seafood from polluted coastal waters.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality released a list of nine closed beaches in two of the three coastal counties, Hancock and Harrison. People shouldn’t even allow their pets to come in contact with water that has a greenish-blue hue.

The toxic cyanobacterium can cause rashes, diarrhea and vomiting.

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Joe Spraggins blames fresh water entering the Mississippi Sound. A New Orleans spillway has been open for a historically long time to relieve pressure on levees from the flooded Mississippi River. The fresh water influx is creating a dead zone without oxygen where marine life can’t survive.

Beaches closed include

Station 1 – Lakeshore Beach
Station 2 – Buccaneer State Park Beach
Station 3 – Waveland Beach
Station 4 – Bay St. Louis Beach
Station 5 – Pass Christian West Beach
Station 6 – Pass Christian Central Beach
Station 7 – Pass Christian East Beach
Station 7A – Long Beach Beach
Station 10 – Gulfport Central Beach

The algae can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. MDEQ advises that those exposed wash with soap and water and to not eat fish or any other seafood taken from affected areas.