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Red streak along Whiffin Spit caused by algae

Noctiluca scintillans is a common along coastlines this time of year
The red colouring could be seen Wednesday morning from the shoreline at Whiffin Spit in Sooke. (Courtesy of Jon Erzinger - Facebook)

A red streak that appeared near the shore of Whiffin Spit on Wednesday morning wasn’t from a boat leak but algae bloom.

Noctiluca scintillans is a common sight along coastlines this time of year, asaid Dr. Andrea Locke, a research scientist with the ecosystem stressors program at Oceans and Fisheries Canada. Blooms have also been reported at Jervis Inlet near Powell River, Princess Louisa Inlet and Sechelt.

“Within the range of harmful algae, it is not especially harmful, and it does not release any of the major algal toxins. It’s considered a harmful algae due to potentially releasing ammonia (a product of metabolism) and potentially depleting oxygen when the bloom dies off and decomposes. The risk of fish kills resulting from this is low, especially in cold water,” said Locke.

The colouring will come and go as the current and windbreaks up the algae, said Locke, and may pop up in other spots over the next few weeks.

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