SANTIAGO – The Chilean navy said on Monday that the red tide which has contaminated marine life in the country’s southern coastal waters and sparked social protests after authorities prohibited fishing there, “will disappear” over the coming weeks.
The study carried out by a group of 14 scientists who sailed off the southern Chilean coast on board the Cabo de Hornos, analyzed 15 spots in the Pacific Ocean.
Oceanographer Laura Farias, who participated in the study, said in the navy statement that “as scientists we’re seeking to make a reconstruction of the ocean to get the answers we’re looking for.”
“We can conclude, in my opinion, that the phenomenon of the red tide is on the wane after the first analyses obtained from the samples taken from the sea in the Chiloe zone,” a situation that is closely linked with the receding of the El Niño weather phenomenon.
The red tide sparked social conflict between the fishermen of the Chiloe islands and the government after the latter banned fishing in the zone due to health concerns over contaminated ocean life.
Consumption of seafood contaminated with toxins found in red tide can lead to paralysis and even death.
The Chilean navy scoured the island of Chiloe in its entirety, taking samples from the Los Rios and Los Lagos regions.
During the coming weeks, the multidisciplinary team aboard the Cabo de Hornos – working under the auspices of the committee that is studying the red tide – will come to their final conclusions.