Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


ORC warns of possible emergence of toxic algal bloom


December 3, 2012

ORC warns of possible emergence of toxic algal bloom

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is warning people to be wary of the possible presence of toxic algae in rivers and lakes throughout the Otago region this summer.

ORC director of environmental information and science John Threlfall said toxic algae occurs naturally in a wide range of water quality conditions, including relatively clean waters. It is more likely to be present during the summer months than at any other time of the year.

In rivers, Phormidium is a common toxic algae which typically forms a thick brown-black slimy algae mat found on large rocks, stones, and cobbles, Dr Threlfall said

If the mats detach, they may float downstream to become caught up in other debris such as sticks. When the Phormidium mats die and dry out, they become light brown or white. Either fresh or dried, it can be highly toxic and harmful to humans and animals.
This is especially true for dogs, as they are particularly susceptible to poisoning from both mat-forming and free-floating toxic algae.

“Many dogs enjoy being in the water and can eat these algae intentionally or by accident, which can have tragic results,” Dr Threlfall said.

Symptoms of poisoning in animals exposed to the type of toxins present in Phormidium mats include lethargy, muscle tremors, fast breathing, twitching, paralysis, and convulsions. In extreme cases, death can occur within 30 minutes after signs first appear.

Toxic algal blooms are commonly blue-green in lakes or still water, but can also be red or yellow.

They typically form thick scums on the surface, and may also develop foams at the water's edge. In Otago toxic algal blooms in lakes do not occur regularly.

If an algal bloom is present, people have been known to develop allergic reactions such as asthma, eye irritations, rashes, blistering around the mouth and nose, and gastro-intestinal disorders, including abdominal pain, cramps, and diarrhoea.

Dr Threlfall said any reaction depends on the type of toxic algae, the type of toxins present, and the concentration of the toxin in the water.

“The higher the concentration of algae toxins and the longer the contact with the water, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be,” he said.

Where humans become ill or are suspected of being ill after swallowing water containing algal bloom, medical advice should be sought immediately. Likewise, if animals become sick, a veterinarian should be contacted.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Disobeying The Law: Police Censorship Of Crime Research “An Outrage”

The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data, the Green Party says. More>>


Q+A Transcript: Groser ‘Not Expecting’ Failure At UN Climate Talks

‘I will be very surprised if we don’t get an agreement. I think it’s a completely different situation to Copenhagen for a number of reasons. We’ve got a much more realistic negotiating proposal on the table. Secondly, I think the science has strengthened...’ More>>


Greenpeace Protest:

Climate Talks, Immigration And Housing: PM's Post Cabinet Press Conference

Prime Minister John Key began by talking about his recent attendance at the APEC and ASEAN summits. He segued neatly from the opportunities available in Vietnam to outlining his upcoming itinerary which includes Malta, Paris and Berlin. More>>


After Urgent Law Change: Beneficiaries Urged To Act Immediately

I am hoping that thousands more people will be enabled to lodge their review... people without internet, who don't even realise that this has been happening. If just a fraction of the people on facebook can help others to put in reviews tomorrow it could improve so many more peoples Christmas. More>>


Auckland: Phil Goff To Run For Mayor In 2016

Phil Goff has today announced his decision to stand as an Independent candidate for Mayor of Auckland next year... As Mayor, Phil Goff will focus on a number of issues that directly impact on the lives of Aucklanders, including tackling traffic congestion and increasing the housing supply. More>>


Foreign Affairs: Mike Moore To Step Down As US Ambassador

Yvonne and I are giving notice to MFAT that we will be leaving the Post just before Christmas on the 16th December... I am now the longest serving continuous Ambassador to the US. I didn’t seek this job but felt I should do it because great issues were at stake. The time was ripe for it. More>>


Fox Glacier: Seven Dead In Helicopter Crash

The operation to recover the victims of Saturday’s helicopter crash at Fox Glacier is a technically challenging task calling for specialist skills in an unforgiving environment, says operation commander Inspector John Canning. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news