Public asked to help against deadly algal blooms on Norfolk Broads

230,000 fish were rescued on Hickling Broad

230,000 fish were rescued on Hickling Broad - Credit: Archant

The public is being asked to join the fight against deadly algal blooms plaguing the Norfolk Broads.

Professor Rob Field

Professor Rob Field - Credit: Archant

Scientists will be inviting people to help with collecting water samples from the Broads later this year.

It will form part of a project to understand why Prymnesium algae release toxins that kill fish.

Last year it was responsible for thousands of fish deaths at numerous sites in the Broads.

The latest findings by scientists at Norwich Research Park suggest that a virus could be partly responsible.

One theory is that a specific virus infects Prymnesium and causes it to release the deadly toxin into the water.

Researchers now have a rapid new system to detect the algae and are working towards similar tests for the virus.

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By asking the public to take water samples it will allow them to carry out more tests and prevent more fish from being killed.

Professor Rob Field, from the John Innes Centre, said: 'With a small water sample we could tell if Prymnesium is present, if it is producing toxins and if the virus is there. It's only when all three are present that it will cause a problem.'

It is believed that the virus could be living in the sediment and is released into the water when it is disturbed.

The research team held a meeting in Norwich on Friday. Scientist Jenny Pratscher, from the UEA, said it public involvement was important for the project's success. She added that people interested in helping would be provided with sampling kits.

More information will be made available at www.bloomingalgae.com when the site goes live.

Do you have a Broads story? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684

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