Mississippi, Gulf Coast, travel

Government officials in Mississippi have announced the closure of the state’s 21 beaches to swimming and other water-based activities after an outbreak of toxic algae.

According to The Associated Press, the spread of a blue-green harmful algal bloom resulted in the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality closing two additional beaches Sunday in Pascagoula.

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In total, water activities at all of the state’s 21 beaches along the state’s Gulf Coast were closed to tourists and locals. Officials said they have shut down swimming, wading, fishing and eating anything from the water “until further notice.”

“The closure refers to water contact and does not prohibit use of the sand portion of a beach,” the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said in a statement. “The algae can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.”

The dangerous outbreak is called a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) and impacts regions by growing out of control and creating toxic effects for “people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“I had a feeling it was going this way. Water always flows west to east,” Pascagoula resident Bill Kenan told WLOX in Biloxi. “It just keeps going and going and going. I don’t know if it’s ever going to get better. I hope it does.”