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Testing follows Longboat Key 26M-gallon sewage spill

Suncoast Waterkeeper is just one of the agencies sampling post-spill

The eyes were on the ugly.

And the noses were pinched by visitors July 9 to Neal Preserve on the west end of Perico Island on Anna Maria Sound.

The water near the shore of the Manatee County park appeared motionless, covered by thick mats of a brown-green muck.

The stench could be sniffed out from the parking lot and multiple visitors to the preserve later asked via social media, “Is it the sewage?”

It was an expected question, given the smell and the appearance of the muck following a sewage spill in June from a wastewater line between Longboat Key and the mainland.

It probably wasn’t sewage by the shore at Neal or the One Particular Harbour Marina, also on Anna Maria Sound at the west end of Perico Island, but the muck — known by locals as “brown gumbo” — might be sewage-related.

Testing may tell.

“It looks from our experience to be a lyngbya-like bloom,” Justin Bloom, executive director of Suncoast Waterkeeper, an environmental watchdog organization focused on water quality and water policy, said July 8. “We took samples and sent them to the state lab in St. Pete.… They are going to test and hopefully will be able to identify the bloom and its concentration.”