In New Jersey

September 08, 1996

LONG BEACH ISLAND, N.J. -- Blue-green algae have decided to have a population boom along the New Jersey shore.

While some forms of algae are toxic to fish and humans, the current culprit - known in the science world as Gyrodinium aureolum - won't harm finned or limbed swimmers, at least in this part of the world. Still, some people can suffer skin irritation.

"It tends to feel sticky or clingy," said Dave Rosenblatt, an environmental specialist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

He advised swimmers who get a rash from the slime to wash themselves off and stay out of the water.

Pete DeTroia, Long Beach Island's health inspector, said he received only a few reports of skin rashes and itchy or bloodshot eyes over the last few days.

The ocean's greenish hue, which signals the presence of the algae, has been seen from Longport to Island Beach State Park.

The algae - single-celled plant life too small to be seen by the naked eye - appeared in Ocean City, N.J., in 1984 and 1985, intriguing scientists. Rosenblatt said the state organized an impressive array of researchers to study the phenomenon in 1986 and discover its cause - but that year the algae never showed up.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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