14 December 2018

Algal bloom warning for near Augusta

The Department of Health is warning people to avoid contact with a Lyngbya sp. macro-algal bloom that has formed in waters north and east of Molloy Island, including the channel, in the Hardy Inlet at Augusta.

Acting Executive Director of Environmental Health Dr Mike Lindsay said the algae had a green-brown, clumpy and filamentous appearance in the water.

Dr Lindsay said contact with the algae could cause burning, itching or blistering skin and respiratory problems in some people. Ingestion of affected water could also cause dizziness, diarrhoea, vomiting, disorientation, respiratory distress and skin irritation.

“Recreational activities such as swimming, wading, kayaking, water-skiing, jet-skiing, fishing, crabbing and shellfish collection should be avoided between Molloy Island, Molloy Caravan Park and the ferry crossing, along with the north-eastern and eastern water areas particularly, where algal scum or discolouration is visible,” he said.

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

Dr Lindsay said health warning signs would be erected by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River at the caravan park and ferry crossing, and other main access points leading to the affected water areas.

Anyone who comes in contact with algal scum 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 algal scum on the surface, and not eat shellfish collected recreationally, as their safety cannot be guaranteed,” Dr Lindsay said.

Dr Lindsay said farmed shellfish purchased in supermarkets and other commercial outlets in WA would not be affected due to a strict quality-assurance program to ensure they are safe for human consumption.

Not all waterways are always monitored for algal blooms and anyone who sees or suspects an algal bloom in a waterway should report it to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) ALGALWATCH during office hours on 6250 8064, or to the relevant local government authority for assessment. 

DWER has collected water and algae samples for analysis by the Phytoplankton Ecology Unit to determine the algal species and provide further advice to the Department of Health regarding their potential toxicity.

Learn more about algal bloom monitoring in Western Australia

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