Long Beach harbormaster warns against fishing, swimming at the harbor

Warning signs made by Harbor Master William Angley are posted at several locations around the...
Warning signs made by Harbor Master William Angley are posted at several locations around the harbor.
Updated: Jun. 26, 2019 at 7:10 PM CDT
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LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Long Beach harbormaster William Angley didn’t like what he saw in his water Monday, so he called the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to request testing.

His fears were confirmed.

The bright green substance seen was the same algae that has already closed many beaches on the Gulf Coast.

Because the official testing station for Long Beach is near Trautman Avenue, MDEQ did not post warning signs at the harbor. So Angley posted his own signs to warn the 50 or so people who normally fish at or near the harbor each day.

Angley said he starting seeing signs of bright green algae on Monday and called MDEQ. They came out that morning, and by Monday afternoon, he was printing up signs to warn people.

“I’d rather people would be safe than sorry,” Angley said. “I’m just trying to take care of everybody. Whether it’s a slip renter, whether it’s somebody launching a boat to go out to the islands or it’s just somebody who wants to enjoy the beach, I’d rather be safe and not have them sick.”

About 50 people normally fish at or near the harbor every day.

The MDEQ warning advised that people and pets avoid contact with waterways that contain blue-green algae, including swimming. Contact with the toxic algae can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

MDEQ also advises people to not eat fish or seafood from affected waters.

Angley has had problems with people taking down his signs, but he said he will continue to put them back up as long as the algae is present.

“This way they know exactly what they’re in for,” he said. “And if they choose to do that, that’s on them.”

Angley said he worries that the word is not getting out well enough about the algae health threat. He has even walked to beachgoers near the harbor to warn them.

“I’d rather see a sign at every parking bay with a flag of some kind to notify people. Every parking lot, every parking bay and every access to the beach,” he said.

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