All beaches in Mississippi are closed due to a toxic algae bloom

Planning to take a dip in Mississippi’s Gulf Coast anytime soon? Think again. All of Mississippi’s 21 beaches are closed to swimming due to a toxic blue-green algae bloom. While beaches are still technically open to sunbathers and beachcombers, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality warns humans and pets to stay out of the water. 

Blue-green algae is actually not an algae at all but cyanobacteria, which is known to cause rashes, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Eating fish and other seafood in areas experiencing the bloom is also a bad idea, authorities say. 

Scientists in Florida scramble to collect healthy coral reefs before they succumb to devastating disease

Scientists in Florida are diligently working to collect healthy coral from the ocean after a mysterious and fast-moving disease called stony coral tissue disease began killing coral reefs in the state. The collected coral specimens may be used to populate a gene bank from which new colonies of coral can be bred in the future. Seven research facilities around the country will temporarily house the coral as part of the Florida Coral Rescue Project led by NOAA. Scientists are collecting 23 species of coral that are either susceptible to the disease or have higher coral-building capacity, while they work to find a cure to the disease before the entire reef is killed. 

Coral reefs play a critical role in the ecosystem, supporting millions of species that live in the ocean. They also act as a buffer during hurricanes and storm surges, protecting coastal areas from the full impact of powerful storms.