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State warns of toxic algae near Arrowhead Beach

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Algae was sighted Tuesday morning by Edenton Bay. Last week, algae was reported in a sampling taken July 23 by the Shawnee Trail Canal by Arrowhead Beach, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

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BY MILES LAYTON
Staff writer

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Early indicators suggest the annual algae bloom was reported in spots between Arrowhead Beach and Edenton Bay.  

However, the Chowan Herald's weekly kayak trip that started near the Chowan River Bridge, up the Bertie shoreline, then across the Albermarle Sound to St. John's Island and past Edenton Bay shorelines, revealed no algae by sight or smell on Sunday. Maybe last week’s thunder storms washed the green stuff away.  

Nothing lasts forever, because by Tuesday’s press time, what appears to be algae or perhaps duck weed was reported in Edenton Bay near Blount Street. Because temperatures have topped the mid- to upper-80s, the water has been pretty hot, so as to create the conditions for an algal bloom. That combined with a stronger wind coming off the Sound means the green gooey stuff may be flowing toward town. 

Algae was also sighted recently Monday by Colerain’s shores across the river in Bertie County.   

Chowan-Edenton Environmental Group is monitoring the situation closely. After you “like” their Facebook page, you can click a link that reports algal blooms and/or fish kills to the NC Division of Wildlife Resources. 

“Lots of different groups are collecting and analyzing samples,” Colleen Karl of the CEEG said. “The CEEG believes that this is a very important step to help learn more about the specific algal blooms in the Chowan and surrounding areas. As we learn more, action steps can be outlined to build community awareness and to begin to restore the balance of this ecosystem. It will take everyone's help and attention so please keep reporting blooms to DEQ. Please continue to practice good water quality conservation.”

Algal blooms are a long-running problem in the Chowan River and neighboring bodies of water. Earlier this month, the state warned residents to avoid blooms dotting the Chowan, Little, Perquimans and Pasquotank rivers, as well as the Albemarle Sound.

So far, this year’s bloom does not appear to be as strong and present as the algal invasion from 2017. 

Officially, algae was reported in a sampling taken July 23 by the Shawnee Trail Canal by Arrowhead Beach, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

The bloom has higher-than-acceptable levels of a toxin called microcystin, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported in a press release. The state has not received any reports of people getting sick from the bloom as of yet, the release also notes.

The release states that environmental officials have monitored blooms in the Chowan River since May.

The public should stay away from a toxic algal bloom along the Chowan River near Arrowhead Beach, state health officials warned.

Microcystin is produced by microbes called cyanobacteria. Children and dogs are most vulnerable to those toxins, according to DHHS’ website.

Test results also showed the bloom is producing microcystin at levels that make a “high risk” for acute health effects, based on guidance from the World Health Organization.

In addition to keeping children and pets away from discolored, bright green or blue water, the release recommends:

• Avoiding handling, cooking or eating fish around the affected areas;

• Washing anyone or any pet that comes into contact with affected waters; and

• If children or pets appear ill or stumble after contact with affected waters, seek medical care for them immediately.

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