Over the last few weeks, Port Hardy locals experienced the chaotic impacts of a changing climate on their community. First, the air is unbearably hot, and then the water gets polluted. This week’s unusual change is a massive algae bloom along the shore.
Algae blooms happen when microscopic algae plants start to grow out of control. Normally these tiny plants are food for small fish and other animals that live in the ocean. But sometimes, they produce toxic bacteria that make people and animals sick.
It’s hard to tell whether an algae bloom is toxic or not just by looking at it, so it’s best not to swim in it. It’s also crucial not to let your dogs in the water during an algae bloom. If the bloom is toxic and they drink the water, it could kill your dog. Any shellfish from the area should also not be eaten because they’ll make people really sick.
Algae blooms can also be bad for fish. In 2014, a massive algae bloom wiped out nearly 300,000 fish in Marshal Bay near Port Hardy.
Harmful algae blooms can happen after major weather events, like storms and droughts. In our case, it was probably last week’s heatwave that did it.
The BC government has a new online platform where you can report algae blooms. It’s called Algae Watch. There, you can enter the information about your algae bloom into their online form.
If you’re worried that the algae bloom might make people sick, you can always call your local Health Authority. They can put out warnings to help keep people and pets from going in the water.