BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss — Update: MDEQ officials have closed an additional four beach stations in Harrison and Hancock counties because of the harmful algae bloom: Edgewater Beach, Biloxi West Central Beach, Front Beach and Shearwater Beach are now closed.
15 beaches are now closed, plus a segment of the Jourdan River from the I-10 bridge to the mouth of the river into St. Louis Bay.
"MDEQ recommends that people avoid water contact such as swimming, wading, and fishing. People should also avoid eating fish or anything else taken from these waters until further notice. MDEQ encourages the public to be aware of their surroundings and notify the agency if they see HAB in other sections of the river or anywhere else on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," officials say.
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Across a long stretch of the Mississippi gulf coast, beaches are closed because of a harmful algae covering the water. The blue-green algae bloom has closed nine beaches along about a 25 mile long stretch of coast.
"I've never seen it happen like this before," said Julie Macuick, who lives in Waveland. "We can't fish, we can't shrimp, we can't crab and it's killing the seafood industry."
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality sampled waters and closed beaches in Hancock and Harrison county including Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Pass Christian and Gulfport.
The algae can be harmful. It can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
So, while you can enjoy the sand, avoid the water. That goes for your pets too.
On Tuesday, there were minimal signs out. Hancock County added four advisory signs along an eight mile stretch of beach. Because an algae bloom to this extent has never happened, according to county officials, they're still working out the best way to advise people. That's why this upcoming Monday, they will discuss adding more signs or flags to the beaches because despite warnings, people are still swimming
"A lot of people do ignore them so were trying to put more advisory out," said Brian Mollere, Sand Beach Foreman for Hancock County.
It's believed all of the fresh water coming from the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway likely has something to do with it.
"It has to be, we've never had anything like this before," Mollere said.
July 4th is a big holiday for the Mississippi gulf coast, but fireworks and festivals will still go on.
"It's not the optimal time," Jeremy Burke, alderman for the city of Waveland said. "Obviously a big asset is taking away from us, but you can still go to the beach, just stay out the water."
The algae bloom is pretty bad and it's unclear how long the green stink will stay.
If you do get exposed to the algae, wash with soap and water. Also, do not eat fish or any other seafood taken from these areas.
The following Harrison County beaches are closed:
- Pass Christian West Beach
- Pass Christian Central Beach
- Pass Christian East Beach
- Long Beach Beach
- Gulfport Central Beach
- Gulfport Harbor Beach
- Gulfport West Beach
- East Courthouse Road Beach
The following Hancock County beaches are closed:
- Lakeshore Beach
- Buccaneer State Park Beach
- Waveland Beach
- Bay St. Louis Beach