Did you see ‘red tide’ in waters off the UAE?

By Sheena Amos

Do not swim, collect shellfish or eat fish

DUBAI 25 January 2018: Have ypu been to the beach recently? Have you noticed the ‘red tide’?

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (Moccae) has been notified by the Ras Al Khaimah Environmental Protection and Development Authority, of biological activity in the form of chlorophyll pigments in the local waters, said Wam.

This indicates the presence of phytoplankton – commonly known as algal bloom or red tide – in the areas alongside the economic zone overlooking the west coast of the Arabian Gulf and the eastern coast of the Gulf of Oman.

As certain types of phytoplankton can make marine organisms poisonous to humans, the ministry urges fishermen and beachgoers to refrain from fishing and collecting shellfish for consumption in the areas of red tide. In addition, people with allergies are asked to avoid swimming in affected waters.

In line with the National Plan for Red Tide Management that ensures an immediate response in such events, the ministry is coordinating satellite monitoring of the marine environment in cooperation with the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment. Satellite images have shown that the biological activity extended to the Indian Ocean and adjacent countries.

A team of specialists from the ministry has been collecting and analysing water samples from various coastal areas of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman to identify types of phytoplankton present. The results indicate a limited algal bloom in green and brown colours that takes the form of unstable patches and consists of a mixture of phytoplankton species with relatively low biomass. The ministry noted that no harmful phytoplankton that causes the death of fish and other marine species has been observed.

The algal bloom is the result of climate change and ensuing rise in seawater temperature. Other causes include the movement of sea currents and seasonal wind activity.

The ministry employs latest technologies, such as remote sensors, Satellite imagery and digital modelling to locate a red tide and to predict its occurrence to take precautionary measures to reduce its adverse effects.