Changing weather leads to red tide infestation in 8 Eastern Visayas bays – BFAR

Published September 18, 2020, 10:55 AM

by Marie Tonette Marticio

TACLOBAN City – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Region 8 (BFAR 8) sees that the sudden red tide blooming and the ensuing incident in eight bays in Eastern Visayas might be due to existing weather patterns in these areas.

Red tide alert is up in Maqueda Bay (Jiabong, Motiong, Paranas, San Sebastian,Calbiga, Pinabacdao, Hinabangan, Samar; Coastal Waters of Daram, Samar (pending confirmatory result); Cancabato Bay (Tacloban City); Matarinao Bay (General MacArthur, Hernani, Quinapondan, and Salcedo in Eastern Samar); Carigara Bay (Babatngon, San Miguel, Barugo, Carigara, and Capoocan, Leyte) Coastal Waters of Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Irong-irong Bay (Catbalogan, Samar); and San Pedro Bay (Basey, Samar).

Based on the laboratory examination conducted by the BFAR 8 Regional Marine Biotoxin Laboratory, the public was advised to refrain from gathering, selling, and eating all types of shellfishes and acetes sp. locally known as “alamang or hipon” from these areas.

This, after two siblings, aged three and eight years old, died in Daram, Samar, while four other family members were hospitalized recently due to alleged paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) by eating red tide-infested green sea mussel, or “tahong”.

PSP occurs after ingesting shellfish, such as mussels, oysters, and clams that contain red tide toxins. These toxins can cause severe and life-threatening neurological effects.

“The BFAR-8 Red tide Team did due diligence in the sampling they made on September 1 and the latest was on last September 14, two days before the incident, and found the red tide microorganisms in the water and shellfish meat in four stations in Daram islands to be below the regulatory limits,” Dr. Juan Albaladejo, BFAR Assistant Director for Operations. 

He added that the erratic weather event such as very warm weather in the morning, and sudden monsoon rains in the afternoon and evening usually leads to upwelling.

This draws up the organic load-rich bottom sediments and the hibernating cyst of the red tide microorganisms were brought to the surface causing the sudden bloom and a sudden red tide event. 

Albaladejo said red tide is usually a natural phenomenon that can happen in a specific place with no warnings. 

He shared that BFAR-8 will be shifting its gear to active surveillance, more tedious, and more frequent sampling of water and shellfish meat in the Daram waters to follow the progress of the event to guide the public with regular reporting.