Toxic algae still present in Waituna Lagoon

There are still high levels of the toxic algae planktonic cyanobacteria at Waituna Lagoon, according to monitoring carried out by Environment Southland on 16 April 2018.

Planktonic cyanobacteria (floating or suspended algae) is different to that found in rivers during warmer months, but still produces toxins that can be harmful to people and animals if swallowed, or through contact with skin.

The most likely symptoms are skin rashes and blisters, but can include stomach pain and nausea. People would normally have symptoms within 12 hours of contact with the water. If you experience health symptoms after contact with contaminated water, visit a doctor immediately. Animals that consume cyanobacteria should be taken to a vet immediately.

With duck shooting season approaching and more people in the lagoon area preparing maimais, people and animals (in particular, dogs), should avoid contact with the lagoon until health warnings are removed.

Environment Southland’s freshwater and marine science leader, Nick Ward, said the toxic algae found in the lagoon during moniitoring on 16 April 2018 was not visible. “That’s just the nature of this algae,” he said. “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”

For further information, visit Environment Southland’s website.