Virginia Beach, Va. – Some swimmers and beachgoers have recently reported seeing what appears to be ‘Red Tide’ at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
It was seen as recently as last Sunday, September 8, 2013 near the area of 33rd Street.
Yesterday, NewsChannel 3 confirmed that an algae bloom, often referred to as ‘Red Tide’, is living in the waters off Hampton Roads and can be known to make people and sea life sick. Experts have confirmed that samples have tested positive for the algae bloom this month and in August, in the following areas: Lafayette, York, and James Rivers, as well as the Chesapeake Bay.
According to Roger Everton, Water Quality Manager with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, crews have been tracking the algae bloom in Hampton Roads since early August, and swimmers are likely seeing that bloom at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront now.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality works with experts from Old Dominion University and Virginia Institute of Marine Science to look at, study, and test these samples.
The algae bloom seen in local waters is actually at the peak of its season, as waters are typically warmest right about now.
“The species typically starts blooming at the mouth of the York, late July, early August. Typically it spreads through harbors. Last week it was found in the lower James River,” Everton says.
The blooms will usually fade away by mid-September or the end of September.
The scientific name for this type of algae is Cochlodinium polykrikoidef.
It was spotted in the lower Chesapeake Bay last week.
Everton says that right now there are no reports of people becoming sick from making contact with this algae. However, he says officials discourage people from swimming and fishing near the ‘Red Tide’.
If you become sick from the algae, call the Harmful Algal Blooms Hotline, at 1-888-238-6154. That’s maintained by the Virginia Department of Health.
Officials will continue to test waters near the James River Bridge, MMMBT, HRBT, lower Chesapeake Bay, James River, and near Western Branch.
By Holly Henry, WTKR/WGNT Online Producer