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Very large algae bloom spotted off Lummi Island

SEATTLE — The Washington Department of Ecology has discovered a very large red-brown algae bloom, often associated with warmer water temperatures, off Lummi Island.

The bloom has formed in between Lummi Island and Portage Island. It also extends toward Samish Island. The Bellingham ferry route and the Whatcom Chief ferry route go through the bloom.

This type of algae bloom looks like an oil or sewage spill, but scientists at the University of Washington say it’s not toxic to humans. However, it’s probably not a good idea to swim in it.

Some types of marine water algae can produce toxins that make people sick, by either swallowing water with toxins or from eating shellfish who ate the toxic algae.

Can you harvest shellfish in your area? Here’s the shellfish harvest safety map.

These blooms are common in Puget Sound in the spring, summer and fall. They happen when there is an increase in nutrients in the water.