Toxic sea slug returns

01:57, Jul 07 2010
TOXIC
BEACH DANGER: Toxic sea slugs pose risks to adults, children, and pets

The Auckland Regional Council is re-issuing a warning over toxic sea slugs, found to be re-invading water at Gulf beaches.

The creatures were spotted during a recent dive survey at Long Bay, Browns Bay, Narrow Neck Beach, Cheltenham, Bayswater, Mission Bay and Illiomama Rock – near Rangitoto Island.

A total of 94 grey side-gilled slugs were found, and samples from each location tested positive for tetrodotoxin (TTX), a poison that caused death and illness in dogs last winter.

Councils are routinely patrolling local beaches to spot any more specimens while investigations into what is making the slugs poisonous continue.

During August and September last year, 15 dogs became unwell with symptoms consistent with TTX poisoning after eating sea slugs at Hauraki Gulf beaches.

Six of the dogs died.

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ARC environmental monitoring group manager Grant Barnes said last year sea slugs were not common but could occasionally be found washed up on beaches, including those on Waiheke.

Now the Auckland Regional Public Health Service is re-issuing advice to Hauraki Gulf beach users.

Children and pets need to be supervised – parents should watch where their children are swimming or playing, and what they are handling.

Adults, children, and pets should not eat anything found washed up.

The service warns sea slugs are dangerous and people who find any should mark the spot and call the city or regional council for the creatures to be collected safely.

Visit www.arc. govt.nz/seaslugs or www.arphs.govt.nz

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