Red tide recurs in Samar

TACLOBAN CITY — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is closely monitoring bays in Samar that have been showing signs of a recurrence of red tide…

Juan D. Albaladejo, BFAR regional director, said a shellfish ban has been imposed in Irong-Irong Bay in Catbalogan City, where water and shellfish meat tested positive for red tide toxin.

“We are worried that red tide toxins will spread to nearby Cambatutay Bay, Maqueda Bay, and Calbayog City waters. These areas have histories of red tide presence in the past,” Mr. Albaladejo said.

Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom which in certain cases takes on a red or brown color. Red tides are associated with the production of natural toxins, depletion of dissolved oxygen or other harmful effects, and are generally described as harmful algal blooms.

Irong-Irong Bay drains into Cambatutay, a bay hit by red tide last year. Cambatutay, which has been showing signs of red tide, in turn, drains into Calbayog waters.

“There’s a big possibility that that we will issue a shellfish ban for Cambatutay Bay this week. Since last week, mussel traders in Maqueda Bay have been asked to secure health certificates from BFAR before shipping mussels to Davao and Manila as a precautionary measure,” Mr. Albaladejo said.

BFAR has also detected cyst formation in nearby Maqueda Bay, an area known for commercial mussel production.

“The presence of cysts indicates that red tide organisms may bloom anytime,” the official added.

Red tide toxins of up to 2,074 cells per liter were found in water samples from Irong-Irong Bay. The standard is 10 cells per liter.

Toxins were also found in 117 micrograms of every 100 grams of shellfish meat, nearly double the standard of 60 micrograms per 100 grams.

“This is very alarming because when two persons in Cambatutay Bay died of toxins last year, the reading was only 20 micrograms per 100 grams of meat,” Mr. Albaladejo recalled. —

Sarwell Q. Meniano, BWorld Online

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