By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Residents are being warned about making contact with the ponds at Cane Garden and Josiah’s Bay on Tortola at this time.
Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael gave the warning amidst what is known as an ‘algae bloom’, which has turned sections of these two ponds pink.
“The pink colour of the water is due mainly to what we call blue-green algae. They give different colours. They can have blue, green, yellowish-brown, and pink and the different colours are due to blue-green algae which is a type of bacteria that we call cyanobacteria,” Michael told BVI News on Monday.
Blooms can also affect marine life
Micheal said algae blooms can affect marine life but said there was no fish kill at the Josiah’s Bay pond when it was assessed recently.
“There was an abundance of crab life in the area,” the chief of local environmental health said.
“But all that can change quickly as a result of oxygen depletion, increased temperatures, and salinity. If persons see dead fish and crabs, it shouldn’t be used for consumption and water should not be used for human and non-human contact at this time.”
Michael said algae bloom can happen naturally but man-made activities such as pollution can also trigger algae bloom.
“In our detailed examination of the area to determine point sources and non-point sources of pollution, we did not uncover any point sources or non-point sources of pollution. Therefore, we conclude that it is a natural phenomenon taking place,” he said.
Algae bloom affecting other countires
Micheal told BVI News the phenomenon is also taking place in other Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua.
He further said the lack of rainfall caused the ponds to become divided and only the section where there is no exchange between the sea and the pond is pink.
In the meantime, Marine Biologist in the Conservation Department Argel Horton said the same pink algae bloom were spotted in Cane Garden Bay and from all reports, the bloom started last weekend.
Water quality tests
When asked whether there will be any scientific testing of the water, she said the last water quality test was done last month and no further tests will be done.
“It is a natural thing that occurs,” she reasoned.
“We do water quality testing at the various ponds, and the last one we did I think was last month,” she added.
However, Horton said if tests were to take place, the readings would differ because of the summer season and the elevated heat.
There was a major fish kill at the same pond in Josiah’s Bay last year.
Notably, overseas news reports indicate that toxic algae bloom is affecting the Gulf Coast. Presently, all 21 beaches in Mississippi in the United States are closed to swimming, and both humans and their pets are warned to stay away from the water.
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