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Algae hits Finland’s coastline, inland lakes less affected

The cold summer has delayed the arrival of the dreaded blue-green algae on Finnish shores, but a slight warming this week coincided with sightings of algae in south-west waters.

File photo. Image: Aku Häyrynen / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) says that blue-green algae, which can cause an upset stomach or worse on contact with swimmers, is present on Finnish beaches once again this summer.

"Blue-green algae is visible in Finnish waters across almost the whole of the western Gulf of Finland, the southern Archipelago Sea and the northern reaches of the Baltic Sea," read a statement by researcher Sirpa Lehtinen in an Environment Agency press release.

Inland lakes, on the other hand, have seen less of the blue-green menace than usual. Abundant blue-green algal blooms have been observed at three inland observation points, with some algae observed at a further 19.

SYKE has 231 observation points, some on the coasts and some inland.

Growth of algal blooms is expected to accelerate at the start of August, when waters typically really start to warm up. At present waters are between 1 and 3 degrees cooler than the long-term averages, with the exception of waterways in northern Finland.

Blue-green algae can cause flu-like symptoms, skin and digestive problems among other issues. It can be especially hazardous to children and the elderly, as well as to pets. Swimmers should avoid waters with blue-green algae, and the water should not be used for washing or thrown on sauna stones—a common practice at Finnish summer houses.