The Regional Council has warned dog owners to beware of toxic algae because a piece the size of a 50-cent coin can kill a dog.
And the toxic algae danger is now high throughout the Region.
The Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) is warning people to keep dogs on leashes and check the water before swimming.
Greater Wellington says toxic algae blooms are causinmg major problems in the Waipoua River in the Wairarapa, in Te Awa Kairangi – Hutt River, and in the Pakuratahi River at the Kaitoke campground.
It says: “Toxic algae is a reoccurring issue for our region’s fresh waterways when water temperatures get warmer and water levels (get) lower”.
For the Waipoua River, Te Awa Kairangi/Hutt River from Birchville to Manor Park, and Pakuratahi River at Kaitoke campground, Greater Wellington advises the public not to swim and to keep dogs on leashes. This is especially important for the Waipoua River
Greater Wellington senior environmental scientist Dr Mark Heath says: “Toxic algae has increased to dangerous red alert levels in the Waipoua River over the last week, with detached mats washing up at the river’s edge so we strongly advise against swimming and letting your dog off the leash. It is very likely as the weather gets warmer that this risk will increase.”
Algae mats — and how to identify them
“Algal mats grow on the rocks in the riverbed and form leathery dark green or black mats, which van break off and accumulate at river edges. As the algal mats dry out they can become light brown colour, and have a distinctive deep earthy or musty smell,” says Dr Heath.
Dogs are mostly at risk because they like the smell and taste of toxic algae. Even a small amount – about the size of a 50 cent piece, can be enough to kill a dog.
Owners especially need to be vigilant of their dogs sniffing out toxic algal mats which can wash up at river edges.
Greater Wellington monitors popular swimming spots on a fortnightly basis to make sure the community knows when it’s safe to swim. To check if an area is suitable for swimming see the LAWA website.
It’s important the community keeps informed by checking LAWA alerts and following warning signs, so we can all look after our whanau and beloved pets this summer.
If you have been in contact with toxic algae and are feeling unwell see you doctor or ring Healthline 0800 611 116. Seek urgent medical attention for anyone with breathing difficulties or convulsions. If you think your dog has swallowed toxic algae, take it to the nearest vet immediately