Wainscott Pond in East Hampton is the latest local watering hole to become afflicted with cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDOHS) announced Friday.
Sampling performed by researchers from the Stony Brook University last week showed the presence of the harmful algae, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, breathing difficulties or irritation of the skin, eyes or throat if people or pets come into contact with it, according to a press release.
Water tainted by blue-green algae often has a scummy, discolored appearance, with a paint-like quality. Floating masses may also develop on the water. According to the SCDOHS, the algae is naturally present in water at low numbers, but can become abundant and turn the water shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. The SCDOHS advises those who come into contact with it should immediately rinse with clean water.
“Due to these findings, health officials ask residents not to use or swim or wade in these waters and to keep their pets and children away from the area,” the SCDOHS said.
Blue-green algal blooms have also been found this summer on the East End in Agawam Lake and Mill Pond in Southampton, Laurel Lake in Laurel, Fresh Pond on Shelter Island and Maratooka Lake in Mattituck.
Those who suspect a blue-green algal bloom at a Suffolk County-permitted bathing beach can report it to the SCDOHS Office of Ecology by calling (631) 852-5760 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the body of water is not a bathing beach, the SCDOHS recommends contacting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 402-8179 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or email@example.com.