Blue Green Algae

As the summer of SUP fast approaches you might not be aware keeping blue spaces open in Wales can be challenging at the best of times.

Here's why:

Last season in Wales we saw the closure of Llangorse Lake for a number of months due an increased levels of Blue-Green Algae in the water - the levels found were well over the threshold/guidance level of 20,000 cells per ml. We also saw similar scenes at Lake Bala and very recently at Pontsiticill Reservoir 

Thankfully, Llangorse & Bala now have levels under control and their idyllic blue spaces are now open and welcoming paddlers back from across the land. If you haven't visited either location they should definitely be on the Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) Bucket List for 2022!

So in today's article we take a closer look at Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) and touch on the importance of washing down the water craft before and after using blue spaces in Wales. Do read on. 

Why is blue-green algae a problem?

Blue-Green Algae can be toxic to livestock, wildlife and humans. Exposures to high levels of the toxins have found to cause diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. Blue Green Algae has known to cause deaths of dogs, horses, cattle, bird and fish across the UK in past. 

What does it look like & how can I spot it?

Here's an image which might help:

So what can we do to protect ourselves, wildlife and our SUP pups?

In the event you suspect Blue-Green Algae, immediately report this to site/lake warden, however, in the event no-one is present you should report directly to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on their 24 hour incident helpline 0300 065 3000 citing your exact location (we recommend using what3words for precision here). Once reported, the NRW will act fast to send a team to test the water and evaluate if it is Blue-Green Algae. If it is Blue-Green Algae the owners will be notified and signage to stay out of the water will be erected.  

Ok, so we've been in the water before seeing the Blue-Green Algae - what to do?

If you have been in the water, it is strongly advised to wash immediately with clean water, this also counts for clothes and water craft. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before eating anything too. For pets that might have been in contaminated water, it's advised to book an appointment with a veterinary professional to be checked over as soon as possible. 

 

Biosecurity

A number of paddle facilities across Wales now offer wash down facilities to help with Biosecurity measures to keep plants or animals (non-native species) from spreading to and from bodies of water. It's vitally important that paddlers these facilities are utilised to keep our blue spaces open, and stop the spread of unwanted algal scum. 

For future information on Blue-Green Algae we highly recommend you check out Natural Resources Wales dedicated page using the following link

#bluegreenalgae #supsafety #marinelife #biosecurity #nrw #supwales 

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