- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina officials are urging people to avoid contact with potentially harmful algal blooms spotted off the coast.

The state environmental and public health agencies issued an advisory Thursday after officials observed algal blooms near ocean piers at Topsail Island, northeast of Wilmington. Those blooms have since moved offshore.

Authorities warned people to keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, discolored or scummy.

Officials were unable to confirm reports of blooms in the Cape Fear River and Lake Tabor.

Large algal blooms are caused by hot water and excess nutrients in the water, often the result of land-based pollution. They may reduce oxygen available to fish and other aquatic animals, resulting in fish kills.

The algae can also produce toxins that are hazardous to humans.

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