Blue / Green Algae

I’m sure many of you have heard about Blue-green algae in some local waters, but what exactly is this algae and what does this mean for us when out paddling?

What is it?

Blue-green algae is a term used to describe a group of bacteria, called cyanobacteria. They are not actually algae, but it is given this name because it often has the appearance of algae when they clump together in bodies of water.

murky blue green algae
Example of blue-green algae

When the algae blooms it can give the look of blue-green scum on the surface of the water. It often looks a bit like pea soup.

Where is it commonly found?

It is most commonly found in areas of still water, such as lakes and ponds during hot weather when there is less rainfall.

Is it harmful to humans?

Blue-green algae can cause skin rashes, sickness, stomach pains, fever and headaches in humans. Children are at greater risk than adults. Don’t drink from or enter this water.

Is it harmful to dogs?

Not all blue-green algae produces harmful toxins but because it is not possible to identify if it is harmful or not it’s best to assume it’s toxic. Dogs can become extremely sick and can die if they consume blue-green algae. It is known to stop the dog’s liver from functioning properly. Do not let your dog swim / paddle or drink water suspected to have blue-green algae.

hand algae

What should I do if I find blue-green algae?

Report to the Environmental Agency. Telephone number (24 hrs) 0800 80 70 60.

Sometimes signs will already be in places warning of the presence of the algae so it’s always worth checking the area first.

blue green algae blooms
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