Auckland Council is asking the public to avoid black algae present on three Waiheke beaches ahead of a clean-up operation.
Last week, the council requested additional toxins testing be carried out on the algae present at Surfdale, Blackpool and Shelly beaches, previously identified as Lyngbya majuscula.
While tests carried out in December had not detected the presence of toxins, the results from additional testing returned today have confirmed the presence of lyngbyatoxin-A.
As a safety precaution, Auckland Council is taking swift action and has committed to removing the algae from all three beaches.
“We are progressing plans to remove the algae and are currently seeking advice on the best way to carry out this operation swiftly and safely,” says Barry Potter, Director of Infrastructure and Environmental Services.
“Until the algae has been cleared, our advice to residents and visitors is to steer clear of the affected areas, and to visit other Waiheke beaches for swimming and recreation.”
According to advice from Auckland Regional Public Health Services, most algae blooms do not affect people, but some can release toxins into the water when number are high.
“Currently the algal bloom on some Waiheke beaches could lead to skin or eye irritation if you are in contact with the water,” says Dr David Sinclair, Te Whatu Ora Northern Region medical officer of health.
“Please do not swim, wade or touch the seaweed or algal material from the affected beaches. If you feel unwell as a result of contact with the bloom, you should contact your doctor, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116.”
A hazard warning on Safeswim and signage at the three beaches advising the public to avoid the algae has been in place since last week while our investigations were underway. This signage and Safeswim is now being updated to confirm the presence of the toxin.
“We understand the public may have concerns around this news and we thank them for their patience and cooperation as we work to get a clean-up operation underway,” says Barry Potter.