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Monster Algae Bloom Off Jersey Shore

Source: NOAA

Source: NOAA

Just as we have warned (and more specifically with respect to potential ecological collapse of Barnegat Bay), today NBC News is reporting:

Monster Algae Bloom Off Jersey Shore

An NOAA satellite has identified a monster algae bloom off the New Jersey coast that could soon impact fishing and beach goers.

Images show a swirling blueish green blob stretching from Brooklyn past Sandy Hook all the way down to Cape May — a distance of more than 100 miles.

An arm of the bloom goes due East from Long Beach Island for dozens of miles, then heads north and northeast across the middle of the New York Bight, also for a distance of about 100 miles.

When the algae dies in the next week or so, it could cause a huge dead zone just off shore.

“If there’s no way for oxygen to be replenished, yes it could have an impact on fish,” said Josh Kohut, an assistant professor at Rutgers’ Marine and Coastal Sciences school.

Kohut explained that as algae dies and sinks to the ocean floor, it is eaten by bacteria.

That process consumes oxygen in the water, which either suffocates fish that can’t get away in time or drives them to more oxygen-rich waters.

Kohut said the bloom was caused by an unfortunate combination of southwesterly winds that allowed the upwelling of cold, nutrient rich waters to come to the surface.

That upwelling gave the algae so much food they could quickly multiply. Kohut compared it to a sort of Miracle Gro in the ocean.

Some of the nutrients appear to have come from New York Harbor following heavy rains over last weekend and the overflow of sewage and storm drain systems.

“The secondary process with extensive rainstorms over the weekend seemed to fuel the secondary growth to the north,” said Heather Saffert, a staff scientist with Clean Ocean Action, based on Sandy Hook.

Normally, Kohut said Nor’easters and hurricanes will churn up the waters enough to prevent a dead zone from Cape May to New York Harbor.

Without that, he warned fishing could be slim and beach-goers may notice a brown foam covering their bodies as they get out of the surf.

Not to worry, Governor Christie just toured the shore, and he and Bob Martin over at DEP are on top of it!

Photo Source: Asbury Park Press

Photo Source: Asbury Park Press

[Update: glad to see Kirk Moore story and COA scientist make connection to combined sewer overflows, that discharge raw sewage into river, bay and ocean waters.

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