Boys on river trip warned about didymo

Last updated 05:00 03/02/2011

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Our boys on the Patea River trip have been warned to wash their canoe thoroughly before switching to the downstream run on the mighty Waitara.

Didymo or rock snot is a major concern of DOC and while North Island rivers are free of the algae, they don't want to take any risks.

DOC didymo awareness ranger Tui Wright said the best way to prevent didymo getting into the North Island was to wash anything that goes between waterways. "It only spreads when people move between rivers."

Canoe and Kayak Taranaki owner Peter van Lith, whose canoe is being used for the River Road journey, said that while the canoe has not been used in the South Island many of his sea and river kayaks had.

He said they made sure all were washed and flushed out with detergent before they came back across the channel.

"It is a bit of a hassle but it has got to be done – people should be taking detergent with them on trips." he said.

Didymo is a microscopic algae so you would not know it had made it to the North Island until it was too late, said Miss Wright.

It grows right down into the shingle bed of waterways making it hard to control. "Putting poison into the rivers or pulling it out won't kill it as you will not get every single little cell," she said.

DOC freshwater technical support officer Rosemary Miller said didymo has a consistency like cotton wool which grew to a large biomass smothering things.

"It grows on rocks where bugs live and it is those bugs that trout, other large fish and blue ducks like to eat."

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