State closes more Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches due to harmful algae

Published 3:21 pm Friday, June 28, 2019

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has closed two more beaches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast due to the presence of harmful algae.

MDEQ closed two beach stations (Station 9 – Gulfport Harbor Beach and Station 10B – East Courthouse Road Beach) in Harrison County due to a blue-green Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) extending into that area.

An algal bloom is the rapid growth of algae on the surface of the water. Experts say the HAB is a result of massive amounts of floodwaters being dumped into the Mississippi Sound and Gulf of Mexico from the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. The spillway was opened to prevent the flooded Mississippi River from putting the New Orleans area under water.

The previous closures issued for 10 other stations in Harrison County and Hancock County remain in effect.

Sampling in the Pass Christian Harbor, the Long Beach Harbor, and the Harrison Road area of the Jourdan River also indicate the presence of an HAB.

MDEQ advises people, and their pets, to avoid water contact such as swimming or wading because exposure to the blue-green HAB can be harmful.

The closures refer to water contact and do not prohibit use of the sand portion of a beach.

The additional stations closed Thursday are:
Station 9 – Gulfport Harbor Beach
Station 10B – East Courthouse Road Beach (Gulfport)

Closures remain in effect for:
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 8 – Gulfport West 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.

All other beaches along the Mississippi Gulf Coast remain open (Stations 11 to 20). MDEQ will continue sampling tomorrow, and this advisory may be revised as results dictate.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources analyzed the samples for MDEQ, and the two agencies are working together examining the HAB situation.