Toxic algae still present in parts of Waikanae River

  • Published Date 23 May 2024
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A red alert is in place for the Waikanae River at the old State Highway 1 and Jim Cooke Park due to the widespread presence of toxic algae mats.

Greater Wellington senior advisor integration and insights Penny Fairbrother says while recent rain has flushed some of the mats, there are still enough present to pose a significant risk to dogs.

“It appears the rain has been enough to dislodge the toxic algae from the rocks on the riverbed, but not quite enough to fully flush it from the river and out to sea. The risk then, is that mats could float to the river’s edge, within easy reach of dogs who are tempted by its smell.

“Toxic algae can be lethal. Even the smallest amount – the size of a 50-cent coin – is enough to kill a dog. Please keep dogs on a lead and avoid letting it scavenge from the riverbank. If in doubt, take your dog somewhere else for a walk.” 

Dog owners who think their animals have swallowed toxic algae, or shows signs of lethargy, muscle tremors, fast breathing, paralysis or convulsions, should go to the nearest vet immediately.    

People who have been in contact with toxic algae and are feeling unwell, should see a doctor or ring Healthline on 0800 611 116. 

“You can identify toxic algae by looking out for leathery dark green or black mats clinging to rocks, or clumps of brown at the river’s edge. The best antidote for toxic algae is to avoid it all together,” Fairbrother adds.

Greater Wellington encourages everyone to check LAWA website warnings and alerts before visiting rivers in the Wellington Region.

Learn more out toxic algae. 

Check for toxic algae alerts at the LAWA website 

Updated May 23, 2024 at 5:05 PM

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