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Cyanobacteria confirmed in Tomahawk lagoon

20 October 2017

Cyanobacteria confirmed in Tomahawk lagoon


Potentially toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) has been collected from the Tomahawk lagoon in Dunedin, prompting a warning from the Otago Regional Council for people (and dogs) to avoid contact with the waters of the lagoon.

ORC took a sample of the algae yesterday after being informed of the bloom by a citizen scientist working there.

Signs have been put at the lagoon today near the beach access to warn the public of the risks associated with the bloom, which is mostly at the bottom lagoon, and has high levels of cyanobacteria.

The lagoon discharges into the stream running onto the beach, so beachgoers should take care in this area.

Cyanobacteria can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals if swallowed or through contact with skin. Exposure to cyanobacteria may cause symptoms such as skin rashes, nausea, tummy upset, and tingling and numbness around the mouth or tips of fingers.

Anyone experiencing health symptoms after contact with contaminated water should visit their doctor. Public Health South is available on (03) 4769800 to provide health professionals with information about those symptoms.

Cyanobacteria occur naturally but can increase rapidly during summer months.

If the water is green or has floating bright green or blue scums, all contact should be avoided. Not all cyanobacterial blooms are visible to the naked eye and toxins can persist after the bloom has disappeared.

ORC will continue to monitor and update the public as the bloom changes.

ends

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