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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2011

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994

LARGE, NATURALLY OCCURRING ALGAE BLOOM OFF COAST NOT
EXPECTED TO HAVE ANY IMPACT ON BEACHES OR SWIMMING

(11/P102) TRENTON - A large, naturally occurring algae bloom floating off the Jersey coast is not expected to affect public health, water quality and beaches along the Shore.

Scientists from the Department of Environmental Protection and Rutgers University's Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences are monitoring the bloom, which results from an upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water that allows algae that is already in the water to grow rapidly.

The algae bloom, identified in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite images, is located about two to three miles offshore and is not expected to come ashore or affect water quality.

"Algae blooms are harmless to people. They turn the water a little green," said Josh Kohut, an assistant professor of marine and coastal sciences at Rutgers. "This bloom is larger than most we've seen, but large algae blooms do occur off the coast of New Jersey, and they are naturally occurring. We are continuing to monitor and track this bloom, but we expect it to continue moving offshore with the currents."

Based on satellite photos, the bloom extends the length of the state's coastline, with the densest blooms appearing to extend from an area from Barnegat Inlet to Cape May. The bloom varies in width, with a tendril appearing to extend some 50 miles into the ocean.

"Large blooms such as these result from extended periods of offshore winds that cause upwelling of cold water that is rich in nutrients to come closer to the coastline," said Jill Lipoti, Director of the DEP's Division of Water Monitoring Standards. "They are a natural phenomenon."

An underwater glider operated jointly by the DEP, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Rutgers University is currently monitoring dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature. The DEP Bureau of Marine Water Quality Monitoring is also sending a boat to collect samples of the algae for laboratory analysis. The DEP will send an aircraft over the bloom on Saturday to better evaluate its size.

Nearly all species of algae are harmless to people, although natural die-offs of algae blooms can result in reductions of dissolved oxygen that can affect fish.

To follow water monitoring being done by the underwater glider, visit:
http://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/auvs/index.php?did=221

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Last Updated: August 22, 2011