It is hard to wrap your head around 500 tons of west coast rock lobsters washed up on the beaches along the West Coast.
Unfortunately, it is the harsh reality of the current red tide walkout.
CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT 500 TONS OF LOBSTER LOOKS LIKE?
Local fishermen recently jumped into action in an attempt to save the West Coast Rock Lobster amid the red tide walkout.
This comes after the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment activated the West Coast Rock Lobster Contingency Plan and issued a Situation Red Alert, placing all government role-players, in the sector, on standby.
RED ALERT ISSUED BY DEPARTMENT
The department’s spokesperson, Albi Modise, said this was a result of the harmful algal bloom (Red Tide) that has been developing in the West Coast, Western Cape.
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The red tide has further caused an estimated 500 tons of west coast rock lobster walkout as of 1 March 2022.
“Department officials, together with the local municipalities and law enforcement are working together to assist in rescuing live lobsters and with clean-up operations.
“The department will also work closely with the local communities in assisting with the beach clean-up and recovery of live west coast rock lobster washed up due to the red tide. All recovered live lobster will be rehabilitated and will be safely returned to sea once the red tide threat has abated.”
Modise explained that it is often the case in summer and late summer that there has been a build-up of large red tides in the greater St. Helena Bay region over the past few weeks.
“These blooms of phytoplankton presently extend 50-60 kilometres dominating waters in the vicinity of Elands Bay, Lambert’s Bay, and Doring Bay.
“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,” he said.
MORE MARINE MORTALITIES EXPECTED
Such mortalities were observed on the beaches of Elands Bay earlier this week.
Modise furthermore said with the prediction of light westerly winds over the next few days, the risk of further mortalities is high.
“Some of these dinoflagellates are also 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 any decayed fish, and shellfish washed ashore as a result of the red tide as this could pose a serious health hazard.”
RED TIDES EXPLAINED:
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 seafood that is contaminated by toxic algae, 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.
Red Tides occurrences can therefore have major environmental, as well as societal implications, with knock-on effects on coastal economies. Fisheries and Aquaculture industries suffer from the episodic mortalities of stocks caused by Red Tides, while poor water quality and foul smells associated with these occurrences affect coastal tourism.
Red Tides are particularly common in the productive West coast upwelling regions, such as the Benguela, California, Humboldt, Canary, and Somali upwelling systems.
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