QUITO – A “red tide” formed by a huge algae bloom covering 400 square nautical miles has reached the Ecuadorian coast off the port of Guayaquil, local media reported Wednesday.
According to the Web site of the daily El Comercio, shrimp fishermen and residents of the area first noticed the reddening of the waters and alerted authorities, whereupon the Environment Ministry subsequently issued an acknowledgement and determined that the algae species comprising the red tide is not toxic and will not adversely effect the ecosystem.
Nevertheless, the ministry recommended that shrimpers take precautionary measures and advised them to “limit the changing of water in the pools (where the shrimp are raised) to prevent the entry of the algae, since they diminish the oxygen level in the water and (thus would) affect the shrimpers’ livelihood,” the daily reported.
Environmental Quality Subsecretary Carlos Villon said that the red tide “is a natural phenomenon that is characterized by the accumulation of large quantities of algae, microorganisms attracted by the abundance of nutrients,” the publication added.
It is forecast that the red tide will remain in the ocean near Guayaquil for about 10 days, but it should then dissipate as the algae decays or is consumed by other marine species.
In Ecuador, the shrimping industry generates income of some $450 million each year and shrimp is the country’s third-largest export, in terms of value, after petroleum and bananas. EFE