Toxic algae found in the Aparima River

12 December 2017

Environment Southland’s latest monitoring for toxic algae at the Aparima River at Thornbury has detected elevated levels of the potentially toxic cyanobacteria.

Toxic algae, or benthic cyanobacteria, can form in rivers and streams, and produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals if swallowed, or through contact with skin. People and animals (in particular, dogs), should avoid contact with the Aparima river, and be mindful of the potential health risks, until health warnings are removed.

If you experience health symptoms after contact with contaminated water, visit a doctor immediately. Animals that consume toxic algae or contaminated water should be taken to a vet immediately.

Environment Southland’s freshwater & marine science leader Nick Ward said “Toxic algae occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer periods of the year. Several factors can which contribute to their growth, such as high levels of nutrients or run-off in waterways, a sudden increase in temperature, and low flows. The long-term forecast for 2017/2018 is for a long, hot summer, meaning a high likelihood of more toxic algae blooms in Southland waters.”

Environment Southland monitors toxic algae monthly at a number of river and lake sites across Southland, and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality that are of public health significance.

Click here for more information on toxic algae.

Cyanobacteria on rock
Cyanobacteria in gloved hand
cyanobacteria matts at side of river
Page reviewed: 12 Dec 2017 12:00am