Toxic algal bloom halts fishing, swimming on Miss. shoreline

Beach signs and flags in Hancock County, Miss., warn residents and visitors which areas of the beach are off limits to swimming and fishing. (Source: WLOX/Gray News)

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX/Gray News) - The entire shoreline of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is now under the same water warning tied to the blue-green algae bloom. Pascagoula’s two beach testing sites joined the list Sunday morning.

The dangerous condition is called a Harmful Algal Bloom, or HAB, which is when algae grows quickly on the surface of the water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an algal bloom can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of water and can be different colors. The blooms can produce toxins that have caused a variety of illnesses in people and animals.

The overgrown of harmful algae can occur in warm fresh, marine, or brackish waters with abundant nutrients and are becoming more frequent with climate change.

A water contact advisory from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality remains in effect for a segment of the Jourdan River in Hancock County from the I-10 bridge to the mouth of the river into St. Louis Bay. The toxic algae has also been found in samplings taken at the Pass Christian Harbor, the Bay St. Louis Harbor, and the Long Beach Harbor.

The sand portions of the beaches remain open. But if you swim in the water or eat fish caught from the near shore waters, it could make you sick.

Beaches affected include:

  • Station 1 – Lakeshore Beach

  • Station 2 – Buccaneer State Park Beach

  • Station 3 – Waveland Beach

  • Station 4 – Bay St. Louis Beach

  • Station 5 – Pass Christian West Beach

  • Station 6 – Pass Christian Central Beach

  • Station 7 – Pass Christian East Beach

  • Station 7A – Long Beach Beach

  • Station 8 - Gulfport West Beach

  • Station 9 - Gulfport Harbor Beach

  • Station 10 - Gulfport Central Beach

  • Station 10B - East Courthouse Road Beach

  • Station 11 – Gulfport East Beach

  • Station 11A – Edgewater Beach (Biloxi)

  • Station 12A – Biloxi West Central Beach (Biloxi)

  • Station 12B – Biloxi East Central Beach

  • Station 13A – Gulfport Harbor Beach

  • Station 14 – Front Beach (Ocean Springs)

  • Station 15 – Shearwater Beach (East Beach-Ocean Springs)

  • Station 19 -- Pascagoula Beach West

  • Station 20 -- Pascagoula Beach East

To read more about illnesses caused by harmful algal blooms, visit the CDC’s website.

More information about MDEQ’s Mississippi Beach Monitoring Program, including the location of beach sampling stations and testing results, is available at the agency's website.

County officials say they are working on getting additional signs and flags to put up to help warn more people.

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