Analysts complete tests on beach deaths

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

North Shore, Auckland City and Hauraki Gulf beaches have been affected. Photo / Greg Bowker
North Shore, Auckland City and Hauraki Gulf beaches have been affected. Photo / Greg Bowker

Exactly what killed dogs, birds, fish and other sealife on Auckland beaches is likely to be known today.

Test results were released by scientists at Nelson's Cawthron Institute yesterday and will be reviewed by at least eight different parties today.

Health authorities and representatives from Auckland city councils will meet the Auckland Regional Council to examine the results.

Andrew Bristol, the ARC's group manager for communications and marketing, stressed it was important that the public continue to stay away from the beaches until the cause of the deaths is known.

"Until the test results have been reviewed by all the agencies, the public health advice previously given stands."

Scientists were examining whether toxic sea slugs might have been to blame for the deaths, TV3 reported last night. Sea slugs are known to feed on toxic algae and four had been found washed up on Narrow Neck beach, where one of the dogs died.

Four dogs have died in the past month after walking on various North Shore beaches.

After owners alerted health authorities, several other cases popped up with birds, fish and other sealife being washed up dead on beaches in Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf.

Warning signs have been erected on beaches on the North Shore, Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf warning people to keep pets and children away.

Toxic algae were tested to see if there was a link to the deaths and were initially being treated as the most likely cause.

But the technical manager at the Cawthron Institute, Paul McNabb, said tests on water from North Shore beaches, near where two dogs died, found no well-known species of toxic algae.

The public is still being warned to keep off the beaches and fishermen should stay away too.

- NZ Herald

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