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Why do we see too much green algae in Boracay during summer?

Everything you need to know about Bocaray Island’s Green Algae

Lumot or Algae on Boracay White Beach photo by boxx120 via Flickr cc.jpg

The Truth About Green Algae in Boracay

What would you do when you see green algae instead of crystal-clear water on the shores of the famous white beach? I must admit, just like other tourists, I was also disappointed to see the waters and the powdery white sand covered by thick green-colored algae.

If you wonder where these green algae are coming from, let me share some info from the local residents and some helpful sites.

Green Algae in Boracay
Green Algae in Boracay

What season do algal (algae) blooms occur in Boracay?

Whether we like it or not, the beautiful white sands in Boracay will be partially covered by these green moss or green algae (lumot in Tagalog), particularly during February. It will automatically and gradually disappear by the mid or end of May.

What causes algae in Boracay?

In 1997, Boracay was hit by fecal coliform contamination. According to local tourism officers, the research found that the contamination is from untreated human wastes that drain out to sea, but that is entirely unrelated to green algae.

The algae that bloom along White Beach in the calm season, bright green species of Chaetomorpha, Ulva, and Enteromorpha, are such strong indicators of very high nutrient pollution that they are typically found right around sewage outfalls.

They bloom every calm season along White Beach but die back in the rough season because waves dilute nutrients to lower levels and wash away the algae, and the suspended sediments reduce the light levels.

Although the problem appears to have gone away after a few months, the impacts will quickly become visible again in the next calm season.

Green Moss in Boracay
Green Moss in Boracay

These algal blooms are not new since long-term residents claim that they used to take place seasonally as long as 25 years ago when there was little development on Boracay. At that time, the major sources of nutrients were from groundwater discharges from the wetlands, but as sewage inputs built up, the blooms became larger and longer lasting. Now that all the hotels and houses along White Beach are required to be hooked up to the sewage system (except those who are denied connection because the system is overloaded), their nutrients flow to the other side of the island instead of flowing onto the White Beach side.

However, the algae blooms along White Beach have not gone away. The seasonal blooms are due to the uncontrolled explosion of population growth in the interior of the island, whose sewage is not connected to the sewage system. Septic tank discharges maintain very high nutrient levels in the groundwater, which are flowing into the sea at every low tide.

It is interesting to note that there is a widespread, but entirely false, local misconception that these green algae blooms “turn into sand”. That is entirely incorrect; these are soft weedy species that produce no sand at all. The sand is primarily produced by a completely different group of algae, Halimeda, and other algae species that make small limestone grains that become beach sand when they die.

These algae live further from the shore, but these “good” algae, which build the beach, are intolerant of high nutrients because they are overgrown and killed by the “bad” algae whenever the worthless weed algae species are over-fertilized by sewage.

Source – Global Coral Reef Alliance

Some residents believe that these green algae naturally dry up when exposed to sunlight.

Lumot or Algae on Boracay White Beach photo by boxx120 via Flickr cc.jpg
Lumot or Algae on Boracay White Beach photo by boxx120 via Flickr cc

Is algae in Boracay normal?

What causes green algae on the beach? Algae blooms in Boracay, a popular tourist destination in the Philippines, have been a recurring issue in recent years. Algae blooms are a natural phenomenon that can occur when there is an excess of nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, in the water.

These nutrients can come from various sources, including sewage and agricultural runoff. While algae blooms are not necessarily harmful to humans, they can be unsightly and impact tourism and local businesses. Efforts to address the issue include reducing pollution and implementing proper waste management practices.

What month do algae appear in Boracay?

The appearance of algae in Boracay can vary depending on several factors, including weather conditions, water flow, and nutrient levels. However, it’s reported that the blooms are most common from June to October, which corresponds to the rainy season in the Philippines.

This is when heavy rainfall can wash pollutants and excess nutrients into the sea, providing the ideal conditions for algae to grow. However, it’s important to note that the appearance of algae blooms can also happen in other months, and the causes are still under investigation.

When to go to avoid green algae?

Frequent tourists recommend the months of November, December, and January if you want to avoid seeing algae blooms on Boracay shores.

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Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of Outoftownblog.com. He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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