Toxic algae warning for Waikanae River at old State Highway 1

28 Mar 2024, 3:36 PM

A red alert level warning for toxic algae is in place for the Waikanae River at the old State Highway 1, Kāpiti. Toxic algae, or cyanobacteria, is harmful to humans and lethal for dogs if ingested. 

Greater Wellington senior advisor integration and insights Penny Fairbrother says there are widespread detached algal mats that pose a high-risk to pets who love playing at the river’s edge.  

“Even though temperatures are beginning to cool down, the emergence of these algal blooms remind us to always be vigilant when visiting local rivers,” says Fairbrother.  

“Toxic algae is a neurotoxin that acts a bit like snake venom, and ingesting even the smallest amount can be enough to kill your dog.”

Toxic algae grows on rocks in the riverbed and forms leathery, dark green or black mats. Dog owners who think their animals have swallowed toxic algae, or shows signs of lethargy, muscle tremors, fast breathing, paralysis or convulsions, should go to the nearest vet immediately.    

People who have been in contact with toxic algae and are feeling unwell, should see a doctor or ring Healthline on 0800 611 116. 

“We ask dog walkers and whānau to be cautious in this area, and consider visiting a different part of the Waikanae River over the long weekend,” adds Fairbrother.  

Greater Wellington urges the community to check for LAWA website warnings and alerts before visiting rivers in the Wellington Region.