So harmful algae are blue

Two weeks ago, a satellite image of the Baltic sea had caused a stir: It shows an algae carpet that had formed between Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The chalk rocks of Rügen, a part of the algal carpet had been rinsed already, wrote, among other things, the “North Kurier” and “Hamburger Morgenpost”. The blue-green algae have thus reached the Kiel and Pomeranian Bight .

Quickly found out that The messages were false alarm. “In the media, the message is highly cooked without any occasion”, says Anja Neutzling from the state office for health and social Affairs in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Neither in Schleswig-Holstein, in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern such messages were sent to the country offices. The blue-green algae carpet did not reach the North German coast. That blue-green algae occur in the summer time in the Baltic sea, was normal, so Neutzling. Bathers were able to go on your beach holiday as planned.

The prohibition of bathing, there were 2019 yet rarely

It is different, however, in the case of the German inland waters, and the danger is by blue-green algae is greater. In most cases, the competent authorities and agencies is limited, however, only warnings for waters with blue-green algae infestation to pronounce. So lower Saxony had issued in the current year alerts for 19 bathing areas, in Brandenburg, there were nine.

Bathing there is, however, rather rare. The country office in Schleswig-Holstein imposed for six lakes, lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, was limited to two prohibitions. Thus, the risk is likely to be in this year, less than in the past. 2018, the countries had imposed 47 the prohibition of Bathing, because of blue-green algae – a record number.

Blue bacteria, which are called because of their blue-green color of cyanobacteria are algae. Basically, you can find in each Ecosystem. “The presence of the cyanobacteria is still not a reason for concern,” said Thomas Friedl, algae researchers at the University of Göttingen.

According to the expert, the cyanobacteria belong to the oldest organisms of earth. They are even said to be the first creatures to have been the oxygen produced. Friedl you are therefore referred to as pioneer organisms. Even today, they are for the environment very useful. With the produced oxygen to provide, for example, fish in the waters. Even an antibiotic effect attributed to them.

A Health Risk

Harmful cyanobacteria are, however, if you multiply a mass, so full of “water bloom” are. The toxic substances (toxins) the bacteria of the skin and mucous membrane irritation, as well as connective skin to trigger inflammation. The toxic representatives of these algae are swallowed, they can cause Nausea and vomiting. Fever, liver damage, or paralysis of the respiratory muscles are possible. In the worst case, they even attack the nervous system, Dieter Hanelt, a biologist at the University of Hamburg.

A small child swallows large quantities of contaminated water, this could have fatal consequences. And also, for Pets at risk: dogs Licking the blue-green algae from the fur, or you eat the stranded Remains on the edge of the water, you can die from it.

A danger to the environment?

Cyanobacteria are during the whole year in the waters, in the Winter, however, a kind of hibernation. To grow properly, you start from a temperature of 10 degrees, so Hanelt. Sunshine and high temperatures warm the waters and create ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria. Also, the high content of phosphorus and nitrogen favours their mass development. It comes to “bloom”, driving the bacteria in colonies on the surface of the water and resemble a carpet. The Wind is scattered over the entire body of water.

The environmental risk and cyano bacteria when large amounts of agricultural waste products to land in the waters and this überdüngen. It comes after the mass propagation of a mass of the bacteria, die the Ecosystem flips. Since there is a lack now oxygen, dying the living creatures in the water that need oxygen to live.

Blue-green algae and protect

An acute infestation by cyanobacteria, bathers can streaks this on the basis of green and industrial relations water. The environment Ministry advises: Who is up to the knees in water, and his feet no longer see the should refrain from swimming in the affected waters. Vacationers and guests can also get information on the part of the authorities in the Internet. The threat of blue-green algae acute, appropriate signs point to the waters on the risk.

Once a month the health authorities of the countries to check the waters to fecal pollution. During the heyday of the blue-green algae, the water will be checked at the same time on the toxic bacteria and, accordingly, warnings or Bathing bans imposed.

In summary: blue-green algae are cyanobacteria, the researchers are generally considered to be harmless to classify. However, the toxins (toxins) in the cyanobacteria can be in large quantities harmful to health. Swimmers should check the websites of the competent authorities. In the case of cloudiness of the water or green streaks, the environment, the Ministry advises to skip taking a bath.