(NBC LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — All of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast beaches are closed for swimming, as toxic blue-green algae continues to blossom.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality added two beach testing sites in Pascagoula to the list of closures Sunday. The decision brings the total number of state beach shutdowns to 21.
The closure does not prevent visitors from staying on the sand, though Mississippi’s environmental agency warns that entering the water or eating fish from it could cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Harmful algal blooms are most prevalent in warm freshwater and have become more frequent with climate change. A bloom can resemble foam, scum or mats on the surface of water, with varied colors.
Mississippi environmental officials claim the opening of Louisiana’s Bonnet Carre spillway has caused the algal bloom by introducing more freshwater to the coast.
The Army Corps of Engineers opened the spillway in February, then again in May. The agency plans to close the structure back up by the third week of July, upon which crews expect the algae bloom to dissipate.
Louisiana travelers often frequent Mississippi’s beaches because of their proximity to their home state.
The water closures apply to the following 21 Mississippi beaches:
- Station 1 – Lakeshore Beach
- Station 2 – Buccaneer State Park Beach
- Station 3 – Waveland Beach
- Station 4 – Bay St. Louis Beach
- Station 5 – Pass Christian West Beach
- Station 6 – Pass Christian Central Beach
- Station 7 – Pass Christian East Beach
- Station 7A – Long Beach Beach
- Station 8 – Gulfport West Beach
- Station 9 – Gulfport Harbor Beach
- Station 10 – Gulfport Central Beach
- Station 10B – East Courthouse Road Beach
- Station 11 – Gulfport East Beach
- Station 11A – Edgewater Beach (Biloxi)
- Station 12A – Biloxi West Central Beach (Biloxi)
- Station 12B – Biloxi East Central Beach
- Station 13A – Gulfport Harbor Beach
- Station 14 – Front Beach (Ocean Springs)
- Station 15 – Shearwater Beach (East Beach-Ocean Springs)
- Station 19 — Pascagoula Beach West
- Station 20 — Pascagoula Beach East