[New Zealand] Bay of Plenty authorities are braced for a severe sea lettuce season, with the thick sheets of algae expected to bloom at dozens of popular swimming beaches and busy waterways.
The regional council’s Bruce Gardner says warm oceans typical in El Nino conditions fuel sea lettuce blooms.
With the current El Nino one of the strongest on record, the algae is expected to thrive more than ever before.
The council has gone into overdrive to monitor busy beaches and arrange clean ups, with 430 tonnes of the algae already removed from Tauranga beaches, Ongare Point, Kauri Point and Pahoia.
Much off what’s been ripped out already has been harvested for garden fertiliser but a collaboration is underway with Chinese researchers to find more complex uses for the native weed.
The council also hopes three PhD projects focusing on sea lettuce will help shed more light on the algae’s ecology and new potential uses for the weed.
“In combining all of these new projects we’ll be in a position to better understand how we can manage sea lettuce blooms or make better use of the blooms when they occur,” said Waikato University coastal researcher Professor Chris Battershill.
Sea lettuce concerns should be reported to Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883.
View original article at: Swimmers beware! Sea lettuce tipped to clog North Island beaches