April 7, 2009

Harmful Algae Takes Dubai Beaches

A municipality official said on Tuesday that beaches in the Gulf tourism hub of Dubai have been plagued by a bloom of algae known as the "red tide" that has killed fish and is potentially harmful to humans.

"This is a natural fauna that goes into harmful algal bloom," said Mohammed Abdulrahman Hassan, head of the marine and wildlife section in the municipality's environment office.

Hassan said that the algae can cause skin and eye irritations as well as respiratory problems for people, who should avoid swimming near it.

Cochlodinium Polykrikoides, which is the scientific name of the algae, absorbs oxygen at a high rate, especially at night.  Fish can be harmed by reduced oxygen levels and the algae can clog their gills.

Municipality officials found algae near the iconic sail-shaped Burj Al-Arab Hotel on Tuesday, but Hassan said that it was pointless closing sections of beach since the bloom was constantly on the move.

"People should use common sense. If they see the bloom or dead fish, they should not touch it and should not swim in that area," he said.

The phenomenon has plagued neighboring emirates Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah for months, killing hundreds of tons of fish, according to the newspaper reports

Dubai is a popular for tourist and residents because of their known beaches.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia