Scientists determine algae species in bay not toxic, warnings still remain

Tropical Storm Laura's winds could be blessing for Biscayne Bay

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – San Souci in French? It means no worries. But at the San Souci Estates, residents these days have a lot to worry about.

As a matter of fact, all of us who call South Florida home have plenty to worry about, too.

FIU Researchers from the Institute of the Environment say the algae present in Biscayne Bay does not contain toxic species but are still warning residents to stay out of the water until scientists monitoring the situation give the all clear.

First thing Saturday morning, scientists from FIU and Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) were out collecting data and taking samples from the waters off Bay Harbor Islands.

On Saturday, the bay got a break. Strong winds from the East helped push the algae West and the oxygen levels were good, but the experts warn that the crisis is far from over.

"If we don't attack this right away, if we don't put all of our best thinking, all of our best management, best practices in terms of infrastructure, revitalization, this will become a common event and that's not a term I ever want to hear about Biscayne Bay," Dr. Todd Crowl, director of the FIU Institute of the Environment, said.

Late Friday, plumes of algae could be seen flowing from the San Souci canals in North Miami into the bay from the Haulover Inlet all the way to North Bay Village.

The devastating scene Friday unfolded after Biscayne Bay was slowly starting to recover from an unprecedented mass fish kill last week where thousands of marine life died after suffocating from low oxygen levels in the water.

“These are big flashy red warning signs that Biscayne Bay is spiraling — that we’ve crossed the tipping point and things are really out of balance; that we need to act quickly to stop the pollution so that this stops and it never happens again,” Dr. Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper, said.

Resident Douglas Brantley is living the nightmare. "I thought I lived on another planet. You can't see through the water. There are heavy things floating and it's something you've never seen. "

The thick slimy algae still covers most of the waterway outside of his home and he's worried about what this means for the future of Biscayne Bay.

"It's a sad situation. We feel devastated. We cannot have this become something worse. IT's the whole reason everyone in Miami lives here," Brantley said.

The big question is how long with the smelly, toxic situation in the Bay last? Scientists say we have to let Mother Nature take its course.

The winds of Tropical Storm Laura could help the situation in the next few days by bring in fresh water, which should oxygenate the water.

The bigger picture is that this should serve as a warning sign of what we stand to lose — a call to action to confront the bigger crisis that’s threatening Biscayne Bay.

In response to the recent fish kills in Biscayne Bay, FIU’s Institute of Environment has deployed water quality buoys in an effort to identify what is happening beneath the surface.

>Follow the Biscayne Bay Buoy and Data, click here.

About the Authors:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.

Michelle F. Solomon is a multi-platform producer/reporter for Local10 and is the podcast producer/reporter/host of the station's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and producer of's DigiShorts.