The apparent “red tide” around Bowen may look scary, but it’s not toxic

We've got good news for swimmers

Parts of the ocean around Bowen look like someone’s spilled gallons and gallons of tomato soup, but it's just a Noctiluca scintillans bloom.

“Noctiluca is a non-toxic species of algae,” said Elysha Gordon, Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program Coordinator for Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “[It] does not hurt humans if they swim in this bloom.”

article continues below

Since last Friday evening, the algae has prompted worry on social media about “red tide.”

“Red tide” popularly applies to harmful or toxic algae blooms. Such blooms include the algae that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which is relatively common along the B.C. coast. When bivalves (think mussels, oysters, and clams) ingest the algae and then humans consume the shellfish, the toxins can cause severe and potentially fatal neurological illness.

“Most people think the PSP variant is red, but it’s colourless,” said Gordon.  She says that the “red tide” misnomer may come from the fact that multiple species of algae often bloom at once, including red/orange algae.

While Bowen’s current case of algae is non-toxic, it doesn’t eliminate the gross factor. “Most people don't want to swim in the water when it is bright red or orange,” said Gordon.

So with this current heat wave, you can either dive in with the algae or just wait until the current washes away the dinoflagellates.  

Keep in mind that beaches may have sanitary closures due to e.coli levels. For that check http://www.bowenislandmunicipality.ca/beaches.

© Copyright 2018 Bowen Island Undercurrent

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Bowen Island Undercurrent welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus