State: Toxic algae closes four more Mississippi Gulf Coast locations

Published 3:36 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), through its Beach Monitoring Program, is issuing additional water contact warnings for four locations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in addition to the warnings currently in place for the existing 21 beach sampling stations. These warnings have been issued due to a blue-green Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) present in the nearshore waters off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. These locations are not part of the beach program’s regular sampling sites; however, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) sampled and analyzed additional locations this week and provided those results to MDEQ.

The locations are:

· From Davis Avenue to Donlin Avenue in Pass Christian
· From Arbor Station Drive to Lang Avenue in Long Beach
· From Mason Avenue to South Burke Avenue in Long Beach
· From Lewis Avenue to Hardy Avenue in Gulfport

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“A Harmful Algal Bloom remains along our coastline, and we encourage people to continue to be aware of their surroundings and pay attention to these warnings. If anyone sees a bloom, please notify our agency and/or local emergency management officials. As a reminder, these warnings refer to water contact only and do not prohibit or restrict recreational use of the sand portion of any beach,” said Gary Rikard, MDEQ Executive Director.

MDEQ recommends people, and their pets, avoid water contact such as swimming or wading where the blue-green HAB is present because exposure can be harmful. An algal bloom is the rapid growth of algae on the surface of the water. The algae can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. MDEQ advises that those exposed wash with soap and water. MDEQ and MDMR are working together on the ongoing investigation of identifying the presence of HABs.

“MDMR is continuing to test water and fish samples to ensure seafood safety in Mississippi waters. MDMR is advising fishermen to avoid catching seafood in waters where algae is present. Recreational and commercial fishing off-shore in Mississippi waters remains unaffected by the algal bloom and is safe for consumption. The MDMR is committed to frequent sampling to ensure the safety for fresh locally-caught seafood,” said MDMR Executive Director Joe Spraggins.

A water contact warning issued July 2 also remains in effect for a segment of the Jourdan River in Hancock County from the I-10 bridge to the mouth of the river into St. Louis Bay. MDEQ recommends that people avoid activities such as swimming, wading, and fishing. People should avoid eating fish or anything else taken from this section of the river until further notice. Continued sampling in the Pass Christian Harbor, the Bay St. Louis Harbor, and the Long Beach Harbor has also indicated the presence of a HAB. According to the National Park Service, there has been no observed evidence of the algae bloom impacting the barrier islands of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. All beaches in the park are currently open.