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IN PICS | Dramatic images of Cape rock lobster walkout after red tide on west coast

Consumers are warned not to eat the rock lobster and fish washing up in the Western Cape as they pose a risk to human health. 

The department of forestry, fisheries and the environment this week issued a Situation Red Alert, placing all government roleplayers in the sector on standby to handle the harmful algal bloom (red tide) that has been developing on the West Coast.

This caused an estimated 500 tonnes of west coast rock lobster to leave the ocean as of March 1, with authorities saying the risk of further mortalities is high in the coming days.

With the army and police, government officials are working to rescue live lobsters and carry out clean-up operations, said the department's Albi Modise.

“All recovered live lobster will be rehabilitated and will be safely returned to the sea once the red tide threat has abated.”

Government officials packed the live lobsters in crates, in a bid to save them.
Government officials packed the live lobsters in crates, in a bid to save them.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

Modise said a build-up of large red tides had been sighted in the greater St Helena Bay region over the past few weeks. These blooms of phytoplankton extend 50km to 60km, dominating waters in the area of Elands Bay, Lambert’s Bay and Doringbaai.

“These blooms are dominated by a group of phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates and their inshore accumulation, particularly during periods of calm, often leads to their decay and the subsequent development of low oxygen conditions which cause marine mortalities.

“Some of these dinoflagellates are capable of producing toxins that may accumulate in shellfish and may pose a risk to human health. For this reason, members of the public are warned not to collect and consume decayed fish and shellfish washed ashore as this could pose a serious health hazard.”


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