Citrus algae cleanup to benefit manatees, tourists

A cleanup project that could create tourism and help the manatee population thrive is finally coming to fruition in Citrus County.

“We’ve seen the deterioration that’s happened over the years,” said Lisa Moore with Save Crystal River Inc.

For decades algae has been growing in Kings Bay with nothing to stop it.

[Click to link to video]

A dredging project will help manatees in the Crystal River in eliminating algal blooms. The benefits of increased manatee traffic could boost tourism in the area. 10 News reporter Casey Cumley has the story. WTSP

“It’s a pretty primitive organism and when the conditions are right it just grows,” Moore said.

It’s called Lyngbya and it not only clouds the view of the spring fed water, but it has negative effects for manatees.

“They can’t eat it and if they do they get sick,” said Moore.

Save Crystal River has been working to clean up the Lyngbya. The group secured $1.6 million from the state Legislature and just got the go-ahead from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin an eight-month dredging project. Then replant Tape Grass in its place.

“We’re trying to not only re-establish the food supply up in the river and the warm spring areas for the manatees, we’re also trying to establish a healthy habitat,” Moore said.

And a healthy habitat with clearer water and food for manatees means.

“It could be a great opportunity for us,” said Erin Egbert, of River Ventures, who thinks the project will improve the underwater experience for their clients and the manatees.

“If they can get in clearer waters and more areas out there then we can spread out where our people are and they can be in more places instead all congregated around one,” said Egbert.

The folks with Save Crystal River say they hope a 3.4-acre canal project is just the pebble in the pond that will eventually ripple out and get the entire 600 hundred acres of Kings Bay rid of Lyngbya for good.

“We will have the billboard we’ve needed to say look what can be done this is what we can make the whole bay look like,” said Steven Lamb with Save Crystal River.

The project should be finished just in time for manatee season.




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