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Pueblo beach, stained red, remains closed for testing of mysterious microorganism

August 10, 2016 Updated: August 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm
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photo - Rock Canyon Swim Beach. Photo courtesy of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce.
Rock Canyon Swim Beach. Photo courtesy of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce. 

A popular swimming spot at Lake Pueblo State Park shuttered this week will remain closed until researchers identify the mysterious microorganism that has stained the shoreline red, officials said Wednesday.

Rock Canyon Swim Beach was shut down Monday after park staff noticed the coloration during weekly water tests for E-coli, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said in a press release Wednesday. Specialists from parks and wildlife and Colorado State University-Pueblo believe the stain is the result of some type of protozoa, a single-cell microorganism with animal-like behaviors.

But officials are not sure what variety of protozoa is responsible for the redness or whether or not the species is harmful to humans, according to the release.

The beach will remain closed as biologists test the organisms to determine if they pose a risk to swimmers and visitors, officials said.

"We do not normally test for protozoa," Brian Kerrigan, the park's operations manager, said in the press release. "Closing the swimbeach was just a precautionary measure made by park staff, in the interest of public safety, until we find out exactly what this is."

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Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

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