ALGAE TURN RIVERS & SURF BROWN

The Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers are among New Jersey waterways now experiencing algae blooms that are turning them brown, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

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The bloom phenomenon is also affecting Raritan and Sandy Hook bays as well as ocean surf along most of the New Jersey coast, state Department of Environmental Protection officials said after a flyover yesterday.

And things could get “scummy” if there’s a major die-off of the algae, creating the appearance of sewage, Monmouth County environmental health coordinator William Simmons tells the paper.

The blooms, which result from rain-driven fertilizer and lots of sunshine, are appearing as we head into the second weekend of the beach season and “about a year after a massive bloom of nontoxic brown algae — the largest of its kind in a decade — blanketed Raritan and Sandy Hook bays and ocean water off Monmouth County,” the Press’ Todd Bates reports.

The same species of algae, a diatom, that dominated that bloom is probably a significant part of this bloom, Simmons says.

When the diatom species dies off, “it makes mats of brown scum and foam and people think it’s sewage,” he said.

“Right now, at least as of this (moment), there isn’t a major die-off,” he said.

If a die-off happens, “lifeguards may take people out of the water if it gets real . . . scummy,” he said.

Things appear to have taken a turn in just a day. Thursday’s Press reported that Simmons checked Monmouth University water sensors in the Navesink River and Branchport Creek, and nothing indicated bloom conditions.

“I think it can be best described as transient and definitely not a major bloom,” he was quoted as saying.

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