No new West Coast rock lobster strandings in West Coast red tide

There has been no new strandings of West Coast rock lobster since Saturday, 16 January 2020, according to the environment, forestry, and fisheries department.

"This is despite research findings indicating that the red tide stretched along the northern shores of St Helena Bay, from Dwarskersbos to north of Lambert’s Bay, and moved south and is now located off the Berg River [estuary]," the department said in a statement on Sunday.

On Friday, the red tide was responsible for marine mortalities, including about 1 000 kg of West Coast rock lobster in the vicinity of Elands Bay, about 220 km north of Cape Town.

The flow of the algal bloom, or red tide, into the southern region of St Helena Bay meant that there was unlikely to be further lobster mortalities of significance, owing to the smaller lobster populations in that region.

Further mortalities of other marine life were possible, particularly at risk was the Berg River estuary.

"The public is warned not to consume any decayed fish and shellfish washed ashore as a result of the red tide which could pose a serious health hazard," the department said.

Red tides are a natural phenomenon in coastal waters caused by a dense accumulation of microscopic algae. Some of the algal species are harmful because they contain toxins, which are poisonous to humans.

Poisoning may either take place through the consumption of contaminated seafood or by toxic aerosols or water-bound compounds that cause respiratory and skin irritation.

Other red tides cause harm through the depletion of oxygen (anoxia), which affects all marine creatures, and can lead to mass mortalities of the entire marine communities or mass walkouts of rock lobsters that try to escape the anoxic conditions.

In 2014, an extensive and long-lasting red tide occurred for the first time along the South Coast, extending from Knysna to beyond Port Elizabeth and causing wide-scale mortalities of fish.


Done By: Mitchum George


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