A white paint-like substance could be seen in the water at Scarness beach at the weekend.
A white paint-like substance could be seen in the water at Scarness beach at the weekend. Karleila Thomsen

Toxic algae may be cause of deaths

THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Resource Management says a potentially toxic algae was found at the scene where dead fish, crabs and pippies washed up on the Hervey Bay foreshore at the weekend.

The grisly sight, found on the shoreline stretching between Torquay and Scarness, alarmed beachgoers who hit the sand early on Saturday morning.

A fisheries officer who inspected the scene and reported to DERM found trichodesmium, a naturally forming algae that blooms in warm sea temperatures.

Under certain conditions, the algae can be potentially toxic, which can cause skin irritations and ear infections among people who come into contact with it.

DERM regional manager Glen Brown refuted claims turtles were among the dead creatures.

“An estimated 200 fish, including a mixture of varieties of small species of fish and crabs, were spread along a hundred-metre section of beach.

“There were no dead or injured turtles on site.

“Because the fish at the site were decayed, it was not feasible to carry out testing.

“There are indications that trichodesmium, a naturally occurring toxic blue-green algae which floats on the top of the water and can resemble an oil slick, was present at the fish kill on Saturday.”

Hervey Bay water police said they were alerted to the dead marine life along the foreshore on Sunday.

They said people had reported seeing a film-like substance on the water’s surface near dead fish and crabs.



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