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Officials on high alert as red tide washes in

The arrival of stronger winds near the coastal town of Lamberts Bay is expected to help lift a wave of toxic red tide which has seen tons of West Coast lobster stranded after a walkout from the sea.

Since Tuesday, coastal officials have been on high alert following a washout of around 1.5 tons of lobster about 20km north of Lamberts Bay.

Since Tuesday, coastal officials have been on high alert following a washout of around 1.5 tons of lobster about 20km north of Lamberts Bay. Pic: Candice Mostert. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

The alarm was raised by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries after satellite images taken last week confirmed that the annual natural phenomenon on the West Coast was slowly moving inshore.

The red tide, which is also referred to as algal bloom, occurs with an increase of phytoplankton.

It is usually identified by discoloured water and the production of natural toxins.

On Wednesday, department officials, with the aid of local agencies, were moving fast to get the stranded lobsters back into the sea.

Department spokesman Lionel Adendorf said they would continue to monitor the situation.

He said it was difficult to predict any further “beaching” of the sea creatures, which would be inclined to happen with calmer winds.

“We’re hoping for the south-easter to blow, which could then improve conditions and avert a potential catastrophe,” he added.

The 80km-long red tide usually sweeps across from Eland’s Bay to Doringbaai.

Department spokesman Lionel Adendorf said that although they tried to save as many beached lobsters as they could, some end up dying along the coast.

“These mortalities are a direct consequence of low oxygen waters following the decay of the bloom in near-shore waters,” he said. - Cape Argus

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