Indian River Lagoon Turns Red In Cocoa Beach

COCOA BEACH, Florida – Water in canals off of Minuteman Causeway in Cocoa Beach, Florida have turned  red due to an algal bloom of Fibrocapsa japonica.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, this alga belongs to a group of plankton known as raphidophytes that live in coastal waters and have caused major fish kills around the world.

Outside of Florida waters, Fibrocapsa japonica has been known to produce brevetoxins, the same toxins produced by the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis.

The Indian River Lagoon waters around Cocoa Beach have experienced a series of algal blooms since the 2011 Superbloom. However, most of those blooms were identified as ‘brown tide’ blooms.

A study published last month in Science Direct used isotope identification to detect the source of nitrogen in the Indian River Lagoon that is feeding these recurring alga blooms. The study identified human waste as the nitrogen source and attributed poor municipal wastewater treatment as the main culprit for the nitrogen loads in the Indian River Lagoon