NCDEQ: Avoid contact with algal blooms in western Albemarle Sound

Algae blooms have been a problem for the last several summers. This bloom was in the Perquimans River in June 2019. [Rose Jacot photo]

The public is being urged to avoid the algal bloom in the western Albemarle Sound and adjoining waters in parts of Bertie, Chowan, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

State Division of Water Resources officials said that the blooms have been observed since May 14 along the eastern and western banks of the Perquimans River, in the Pasquotank River near Elizabeth City and the Chowan River’s western shore. Algal blooms tend to to be moved around by wind and waves.

“Staff with the agency’s water sciences program have been monitoring the bloom. Algae contributing to the bloom have been identified as Dolichospermum, which belongs to the algal group cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae,” according to the release. “Algal blooms of this type usually appear bright green but can change to a milky blue when they start to decay. Decaying algae produces a strong, foul odor that can impact a large area.”

The species of cyanobacteria that has been identified has the ability to produce toxins, called cyanotoxin, which an affect the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, liver and nervous system of people, pets, livestock and other animals, according to the state Department of Human and Health Services.

While there have been no reports associated with this algal bloom, officials encourage avoiding contact with the algae and not allowing children and pets to swim or ingest water in an algal bloom.

State water quality and health officials suggest the following to safeguard from algal bloom:

  • Keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, blue, discolored or scummy.
  • Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.
  • Avoid handling, cooking or eating dead fish that may be present.
  • Wash thoroughly if exposed to water where an algal bloom is occurring.
  • Use clean water to rinse off pets that have been exposed to water where an algal bloom is occurring.
  • If your child appears ill after being in water where an algal bloom is occurring, seek medical care immediately.
  • If your pet appears to stumble, stagger or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river, seek veterinary care immediately.

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