Friday 30 October, 2020

VIDEO: Surprise in St Mary as Outram River suddenly turns red

The waters of the Outram River which flow into the sea through Port Maria in St Mary, have suddenly become almost blood red.

The waters of the Outram River which flow into the sea through Port Maria in St Mary, have suddenly become almost blood red.

Eyebrows were raised by some residents of, and visitors to, Port Maria, St Mary on Saturday when the Outram River, which runs through the town, appeared to have transformed to a red colour.

For some individuals, it was first they had witnessed any river in that state.

"A first mi see the river look like this. Rain fall yesterday (Friday) morning, so mi nuh sure if that a di cause, but first me see it like this," a man who claimed to be a resident of Frontier in Port Maria, indicated.

"It look like blood eh," was the response of another curious onlooker.

"Sign and wonder," were the only words from a woman passing by.

The Outram River, formerly the Port Maria River or the Port Maria Western River, reaches the sea in the parish capital of Port Maria, and has in the past contributed to flooding in the town.

Loop News could not immediately reach officials from the St Mary Health Department or the Ministry of Health to point to the likely cause of the change in the river's normal appearance.


But based on articles written online, bodies of water turning red is no longer an unheard of phenomenon. In September of 2012, for example, the Chongqing stretch of the Yangtze River in China turned blood red. This led to an article written by Wade Shepard on the website, the, entitled, 'What can cause a river to run red?'

Shepard said: "Reports of red rivers, lakes, coastlines and floods are gracing the headlines of the world’s news outlets with ever-growing frequency."

He went on to state that a number of natural causes can turn massive waterways into the colour of blood, as well as artificial reasons, including pollution.

Among the natural causes the author stated were erosion, red tide, increased salination and decreased oxygen.

In terms of red tides, Shepard said these "are events in which estuarine, marine or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in a body of water, resulting in its discolouration at the surface — sometimes turning it purple, pink, red or green. Some red tides are associated with the production of natural toxins or the depletion of dissolved oxygen."

Another view of the surprisingly red waters of the Outram River which flow through Port Maria in St Mary. 

In the case of the red appearance of the Yangtze River in China, Shepard argued that "because rivers are moving constantly, and are always mixing with the air, it is not thought that this could be a viable cause for the flamboyant colouration of that river."

Shepard further said "though local environmental agencies ruled out illegal sewage dumping, they did vaguely admit that it (the red colourisation of the Yangtze River) may have been caused by industrial pollution and silt churned up by recent upstream floods."

Meanwhile, citing other cases, it was noted that in August 2012, a lake in the Camargue wetland region of France suddenly turned blood red. Environmental scientists, according to the online article, said "it was caused by a salt-loving algae called Dunaliella Salina, which produces a red pigment that absorbs and uses the energy of sun in order to create more energy."

This reportedly happened because of an increase in the lake’s salt content, which caused the brine shrimp to die, and the saline algae to proliferate at an abnormal rate, changing the entire lake’s colour.

Other methods of pollution, including dumping of sediments, red sludge and dye dumping, can also reportedly result in bodies of water turning red.

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