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Blue-green algae increasing in Finnish lakes

Potentially harmful blue-green algae has increased in lakes over the past week.

Ilmakuvassa näkyy  sinileväkukintaa itäisellä Suomenlahdella vuonna 2005.
Sightings of blue-green algae have been recorded at 13 monitoring sites in southern parts of Finland. Image: Handout / Lehtikuva
Yle News

The level of toxic blue-green algae in Finnish lakes is presently just slightly above normal for the time of year, but has shown a rise over the past week, reports the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

Sightings have been recorded at 13 monitoring sites in southern parts of the country. However, none of the sightings have been classed as being of considerable or high levels. SYKE adds, though, that there have been four reports from private individuals of blue-green algae blooms in inland waters.

Unusually warm temperatures at the start of the summer spurred the growth of algae blooms. At present, windy weather is keeping algae mixed with bodies of water. Kristiina Vuorio, a researcher at SYKE, stated in a press release on Thursday that these same winds may, however, push algae onto shorelines.

So far there have been no reports of algae blooms in open sea areas.

Surface temperatures in lakes in southern Finland have fallen to under 20 degrees Celsius. In central regions surface temperatures vary between 12C and 16C. In Finnish Lapland, lake surface temperatures are mostly below 12C.

Sea waters are also cool, with surface temperatures in open waters at around 15C, slightly warmer in coastal areas. Earlier this month, SYKE warned that this summer brings with it a substantial risk of blue-green algae formations in the Gulf of Finland, the northern part of the Baltic Sea.

Blue-green algae are actually types of cyanobacteria that thrive in warm, nutrient-rich water. People and animals – especially small children and dogs – can become very ill from touching, swallowing or even breathing in water droplets.

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