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Red tide's return dire for Knysna

21 January 2014
John Harvey

THE red tide thought to have abated in the Knysna estuary has returned.

This comes after evidence of red tide was observed at the Knysna Heads on Sunday, only a week after additional water samples collected from three areas in the estuary indicated the bloom had degraded significantly.

Reports of red tide off the coast of Port Elizabeth on the way to St Croix Island have also emerged.

Whale-watching operator Raggy Charters spokeswoman Ellie Bottomley said the water had a reddish appearance on the way to Ngqura harbour on Sunday.

"From Seaview I could see it in an east and west direction, about a kilometre wide."

But municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said the municipality was still unaware of the phenomenon.

Wildlife and Environmental Society of SA Port Elizabeth senior conservation officer Morgan Griffiths also had not heard about the presence of red tide.

"The last I heard it had subsided in Knysna. It is possible that it may bloom again because of the south-westerly winds and the high temperatures we have had. I have not heard about it in Port Elizabeth," he said.

The situation is however more dire in Knysna, where the first blooms occurred in mid-December.

"Authorities are again cautioning against the collection of shellfish from the Knysna estuary until further notice," SANParks spokeswoman Nandi Mgwadlamba said yesterday.

Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning, associated with red tide, appear between one and five hours after eating contaminated seafood. The situation is also having an adverse effect on Knysna restaurants. Cailyn Foster, assistant general manager of Quay 4 on Thesen Island, said the situation was "very bad".

"We are known for our oysters, so obviously this is having a negative impact."

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