Signs along Sagg Pond in Southampton Town on Saturday warn of high...

Signs along Sagg Pond in Southampton Town on Saturday warn of high levels of blue-green algae blooms.

Credit: John Roca

Suffolk County health officials urged people and pets to stay away from Sagg Pond in the Town of Southampton due to the presence of harmful blue-green algae blooms.

Exposure to the algae blooms, which can appear on the water in shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red, can cause skin irritation, gastrointestinal issues or breathing issues in people, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. It can also make pets seriously sick and in some cases cause seizures, convulsions and paralysis.

Stony Brook University tested the pond and confirmed the presence of the algae, also known as cyanobacteria blooms, health officials said in a news release. 

Visitors are warned to steer clear of waters that appear scummy or discolored and rinse off if contact does occur. People should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms after exposure. 

Algal bloom is the proliferation of phytoplankton, microscopic single-celled plants, that are generally good for the environment but can turn into a nuisance when one phytoplankton species grows uncontrollably. 

An overgrowth of algae is triggered by excessive nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, low-flow conditions and warm temperatures, according to the DEC. Cyanobacteria produces toxins and is a threat to public health and fisheries as it becomes more prevalent around the world.  

To report a suspected algae bloom at a Suffolk County bathing beach, call 631-852-5760 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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