The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is advising beach goers to be on the lookout for an algal bloom in Hobsons Bay, and to avoid contact with affected water.

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) was alerted to a large algal bloom in Hobsons Bay from its real time monitoring system aboard the Spirit of Tasmania.

Samples collected from surrounding beaches confirm the bloom as largely made up of relatively harmless tiny floating marine organisms called diatoms, however, high levels of the potentially harmful Pseudo-nitzschia delicatissima species were also detected.

This particular algal bloom may cause skin and eye irritation and produces a toxin that can accumulate in shellfish.

“Warm weather combined with recent rainfall has resulted in the appearance of the bloom, and it may persist for several days”, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Regional Manager Bernard Barbetti said.

“We recommend swimmers and bay users avoid contact with discoloured water. If contact does occur, wash with clean water.

“While there are already restrictions on collecting shellfish in this area, recreational shellfish collectors are being advised not to eat shellfish taken from the Hobsons Bay area as this algal bloom species can cause toxins to accumulate in shellfish like mussels, pipis, oysters and scallops, and to a lesser extent fish.”

Further sampling will be undertaken to assess the extent of the bloom over the coming days.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is the lead agency in coordinating the Victorian Government’s response to marine algal blooms and works closely with the EPA on issues affecting water quality in Port Phillip Bay.