FUJAIRAH // Tests are to be carried out on 50 fish that washed ashore on a Dibba beach believed to have been killed by a red tide. Eng al Yamahy, the director of Dibba Municipality, said samples from the fish, the latest to turn up dead in the area, had already been sent to a laboratory for tests. "We will be looking for toxic materials inside the fish," said Mr Yamahy, adding that an offshore algal bloom that has been lingering off the coast for almost two months was suspected of causing their deaths.
Red tides are algal blooms caused by the rapid growth of phytoplankton. Such blooms reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and can kill fish. Certain types of algae can also produce dangerous toxins. They occur under certain conditions, such as when large amounts of sunlight combine with increased nutrients from effluent. So far, it is not clear whether the bloom is a public health threat. Divers have been noting its effects on the marine environment, with the murky water moving along parts of the emirate's east coast and the Oman-part of the Mussandam Peninsula.
"The last three times I dived, there was a red tide. It has been there at least six weeks," said Barbara Lang-Lenton, a marine biologist and scuba instructor. "The water was completely red. We had to get down three metres before it got clearer." Ibrahim al Zu'ubi, an adviser to the Emirates Diving Association, said he saw the bloom on Friday: "I was on top of the mountain and the whole sea below was red."
During a bloom, each algal cell may replicate itself a million times in a matter of weeks. There are 20 species of algae that cause blooms and out of these species, nine are toxic, representing a concern for swimmers and for those who eat seafood. The number and variety of algal species on the emirate's waters has not been as extensively documented. Mr Yamahy could not say when the test results would be available.