News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Potentially toxic algae found in Whakatane River

Potentially toxic algae found in Whakatane River around Ruatoki Bridge

Routine monitoring by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has identified potentially toxic algal mats covering the bed of the Whakatane River, near Ruatoki Bridge in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The local council has placed warning signs at the area most affected.

People are advised to avoid contact with this section of the Whakatane River and be on the lookout for algal mats elsewhere in the river.

Toxic algae (cyanobacteria) often multiply to excessive levels during periods of warm, dry, sunny weather when rivers levels are low. In rivers they can form extensive black or brownish slime-like mats that cling to rocks and logs. Significant clumps sometimes break off and float free, eventually collecting on vegetation at the water's edge.

“The algae that form the mats can release toxins that are potentially harmful to people and animals,” says Dr Jim Miller, Medical Officer of Health. Cyanobacteria toxins can trigger asthma and hayfever attacks in susceptible individuals, as well as causing skin rashes, stomach upsets, and even neurological effects such as tingling round the mouth, headaches, general breathing difficulties and visual problems.

People are advised not to paddle, wade, swim, or participate in any recreational activity that might involve significant contact with the cyanobacteria mats or swallowing of raw river water. The health warning also includes people keeping their pets and livestock out of the river. “Highest risk areas tend to be shallow river margins where infants and dogs are most likely to come in contact with the mats,” says Dr Miller.

As a similar problem could occur in other areas of the river at any time, Dr Miller advises people to make their own visual assessment of the river and avoid diving in if black and brown algal mats are found covering large areas of the river bed. People should also avoid swimming in or drinking river water that has a strange musty smell. “If in doubt, go somewhere else,” he says.

Anyone suffering illness after contact with the Whakatane River should seek medical advice.

For more information and images of toxic algae mats go to:
www.ttophs.govt.nz/recreational_water or
www.boprc.govt.nz/environment/rivers-and-drainage/rivers-health-warning/

Cyanobacterial mats vary from dark brown/black and are moss like in appearance, thickness and colour (black to dark green) but have a much slimier texture and glisten when exposed to air. In shallow areas the mats may appear bleached and take on a golden brown colour. The mats are easily dislodged from the riverbed and form floating ‘rafts’.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Werewolf: Music Criticism As A Dating Metaphor

Music criticism can be just another form of consumer advic... Yet ever since pop music criticism first entered the media mainstream it has played a wider role, too. Rather than a decree with a numerical score attached, this kind of criticism functions more like travel notes. A conversation, even a form of seduction. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Rushing For Gold

The first section focuses particularly on the Victorian connections – commercial, legal, mining and personal, including migration statistics. But for me the most interesting chapters were in the middle sections about the people of the goldfields. More>>

Comedy Festival Review: VOTE BATT

The political campaigning in the US over the last eight months or so has provided a stark insight into how far political candidates are willing to go. This background came into focus as “former comedian” – now politician – Tim Batt ushered people up into the front seats, passing out badges and taking photographs with his not entirely adoring public... More>>

HRH QEII's 90th: New Zealand Post Birthday Stamps Fit For A Queen

New Zealand Post is celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday with a special series of stamps and a limited edition silver coin. The Queen was born on 21 April 1926. To mark her birthday, New Zealand Post has produced ‘lenticular’ or moving stamps that feature nine different images of the Queen on just three stamps. More>>

ALSO:

Anzac Day: A Time To Stand Against Hatred

The Human Rights Commission says ANZAC Day is a time for New Zealanders to remember those things our grandparents stood for and stand up against intolerance and prejudice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news