RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Resources (DWR) announced toxic algal bloom was growing in water around the state.

The division said it has received six reports of potential blooms this spring. Cyanobacteria, a type of algae which can be harmful to people and pets, was found after two of those reports.

While algae are a natural occurrence in all waterbodies, certain environmental conditions can cause rapid cell growth called blooms. Algal blooms can appear as surface scums, DWR said. Those scums resemble spilled paint and can be bright green, red, brown, or blue. Blooms can also appear as algal mats — dense, macroscopic growths that float on the water surface — or discoloration throughout the water column.

  • Discolored water or surface scums that can appear bright green, blue, red, or brown in color. N.C. Division of Water Resources
  • Floating or submerged clumps, flecks or mats
  • algal bloom. Milky blue/white surface scum indicating decaying cyanobacteria

DWR said blooms tend to move due to wind and wave action. It said decaying algae may produce a strong, foul odor that can impact a large area.

In some cases, algae can be toxic to humans, pets, and aquatic organisms. A test needs to be conducted to determine if blooms are Harmful Algal Blooms.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds the public to avoid contact with large accumulations of algae and to prevent children and pets from swimming or ingesting water in an algal bloom.

DPH suggests the following steps to safeguard against algal blooms:

  • Keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, blue, discolored, or scummy.
  • Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.
  • Avoid handling, cooking, or eating dead fish that may be present.
  • If you come into contact with an algal bloom, wash thoroughly.
  • Use clean water to rinse off pets that may have come into contact with an algal bloom.
  • If your child appears ill after being in waters containing an algal bloom, seek medical care immediately.
  • If your pet appears to stumble, stagger, or collapse after being in a pond, lake, or river, seek veterinary care immediately.

To report an algal bloom, contact the nearest DEQ regional office or submit a report online.

To view reported algal bloom events, click here.