18 December 2015

Algal bloom warning for Wellstead Estuary in Bremer Bay

The Department of Health is reminding people to continue to avoid recreational activities in Wellstead Estuary in Bremer Bay due to an algal bloom over the past 18 months.

Environmental Health Director Jim Dodds said the algal bloom species Synechococcus was characterised by a light-green discolouration in the water, and could cause ill health effects and skin irritation.

“Recreational activities such as swimming, wading, fishing, crabbing, shellfish collection and canoeing in these waters should be avoided,” he said.

“Shellfish should also not be consumed in the area, as other algal species have also been identified which can produce toxins which may cause paralytic or neurotoxic effects if ingested.

“Pets and livestock should be kept away from the water during the bloom.”

Mr Dodds said the Shire of Jerramungup maintained health warning signs at the main access points leading into the affected waterway.

Anyone who comes in contact with algal affected water should rinse it off with clean water and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.

“As a general rule people should avoid swimming in water that is discoloured or has scum on the surface, and not collect wild shellfish as their safety cannot be guaranteed,” he said.

Mr Dodds said commercially available shellfish from supermarkets and other commercial outlets in Western Australia were not affected, as they were managed by a strict quality assurance program to ensure they were safe for human consumption.

The Department of Water and the Shire of Jerramungup will continue to monitor the algal bloom and provide advice on algal levels to the Department of Health.

For further information please contact the Shire of Jerramungup, or refer to algal bloom information found on the HealthyWA website.

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