Caution for Dog Owners and Swimmers as Toxic Algae identified at Kapiti sites

Toxic Algae identified on Waikanae and Otaki Rivers

Swimmers are being advised to take caution while dog owners should keep dogs on leashes or avoid two river sites along the Kāpiti Coast with toxic algae, including detached algal mats being identified.

The sites are located at Ōtaki River at State Highway One and Waikanae River at Jim Cooke Park

Greater Wellington Marine and Freshwater Team Leader, Dr Evan Harrison said “Toxic algae has increased to amber levels at the site meaning we strongly advise caution to swimmers and to check the LAWA website regularly for updates before getting in the water”.

The warning bears greater significance for dog owners as dogs like the smell and taste of the algae and a small piece, only around the size of a 50c coin, is enough to kill a dog.

“The risk is higher with detached algal mats being found at both sites, meaning the algae has broken off rocks in the riverbed and accumulated at the rivers edge, within easy reach for dogs, said Dr Harrison.

“With this warm weather hanging around, caution is advised for people and their pets until this warning has been removed from the LAWA website”

We’ve seen sites that are safe to swim in, move to dangerous warning levels within a matter of days. The warm weather is accelerating that and it’s important to check the latest status on LAWA” added Dr Harrison.

Greater Wellington is currently monitoring popular swimming spots around the region on a weekly basis to ensure the community knows when where it’s safe to swim.

Members of the public who think they or their dogs have been in contact with toxic algae should see your doctor or ring Healthline on 0800 611 116 and for their dogs, take it immediately to the nearest vet.