Bobby Jordan | Times Live 1 March 2022

Tons of west coast rock lobster has beached itself along the west coast around Elandsbaai and Doringbaai, it emerged on Tuesday.

Government officials confirmed the “walkout” but said they would comment only after detailed feedback from fieldworkers.

Pictures on social media show coastal residents collecting west coast rock lobster from a solid 5m-wide line along the shore.

Many sand sharks are also visible lying among the kreef. It is unclear exactly how much rock lobster has been lost.

The walkout is almost certainly related to a red tide, which refers to algal blooms that can deplete oxygen available to affected sea life.

Levels of chloroform, which are an indicator of red tide, have spiked in the nearshore zone close to Lamberts Bay, Doringbaai and Elandsbaai, according to data supplied by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

“There has been a big (red tide) bloom,” confirmed a Cape Town scientist monitoring the event.

“Red tide is not necessarily the cause of the walkout, but generally when there is a lack of oxygen in the water it is because of the red tide. Tomorrow we will collect samples to try to determine the cause.”

Scientists are concerned about the frequency of the algal blooms, which may be linked to human activity such as farming which creates nutrient-rich run-off in rivers.

Biotoxins released during some algal blooms are harmful to many marine species and may also be linked to the recent spate of seal deaths along the coast.