Published on: 24.8.2023
Information produced by Finnish Environment Institute
Reduced wind increases surface blooms of blue-green algae
There have been sightings of blue-green algae in almost all of Finland this week. Although the sightings have increased, the situation remains typical for inland waters and coastal areas. There are also sightings of blue-green algae mixed with water and floating on the surface in sea areas.
SYKE observes the cyanobacteria occurrence as part of the monitoring of the state of the environment
The national cyanobacterial monitoring is carried out as part of the monitoring of the state of the environment in cooperation with the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), municipal environmental and health authorities and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). Finnish Rotary Clubs are also actively involved in nationwide cyanobacterial monitoring.
The cyanobacterial monitoring is based on the monitoring of cyanobacterial deposits in surface water, and the intention is to provide an overview of the cyanobacterial situation in different water bodies. The monitoring includes about 400 permanent observation sites across the country on inland and coastal waters and in the archipelago.
Information on the cyanobacterial situation in the open sea areas is mainly obtained from satellite images, but also from the Finnish Border Guard, the marine research vessel Aranda, the optical device located at the Utö Atmospheric and Marine Research Station, as well as cruise and merchant ships (MS Finnmaid and MS Silja Serenade) equipped with Alg@line measuring equipment. The drift forecasts for cyanobacterial rafts in open sea areas are prepared in cooperation with the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s Maritime Services.
SYKE reports on the national cyanobacterial situation on a weekly basis every Thursday from the beginning of June until the end of August. The weekly algal reporting on the national cyanobacterial monitoring was launched in 1998.
Several compounds produced by cyanobacteria can cause health hazards
According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), cyanobacterial occurrences can cause health hazards. Cyanobacteria produce a number of different compounds that can cause symptoms. Some cyanobacteria can produce liver or nerve toxins, but most of the symptoms experienced by swimmers may also be due to other compounds.
Small children and pets should particularly be kept out of water rich with cyanobacteria. Water with cyanobacteria should not be used in a sauna or as washing or irrigation water. If you suspect a poisoning, seek medical advice, or take the pet to a veterinarian. If necessary, the Poison Information Centre will provide additional instructions.
The municipal health authorities monitor the cyanobacterial situation on beaches.
Read more about blue-green algae and health:
- At the the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) website
- At the Poison Information Center website
Report your cyanobacterial observations to the Järvi-meriwiki (Lake and sea wiki)
In Järvi-meriwiki, maintained by the Finnish Environment Institute, you can establish your own observation site and share cyanobacterial observations or make individual observations when moving around waterways. You can also report observations via the smartphone-friendly Havaintolähetti website.
The reported observations are shown on the national cyanobacterial observation map, and they support the national algal situation assessment. Observations about the absence of cyanobacteria are also important.
Järvi-meriwiki is an online service produced in collaboration with authorities and citizens. The service provides basic information on all lakes larger than one hectare as well as different areas of the Baltic Sea. Users can share, for example, photos and other observations on the service.
Municipalities and cities monitor the cyanobacterial situation on the beaches, so it is advisable to report rich cyanobacterial occurrences on beaches to the health authorities of the municipality in question.
This is how you identify cyanobacteria
A small amount of cyanobacteria in the water appears as green or yellowish particles. Narrow stripes of algae can drift to a beach. In calm weather, a substantial amount of cyanobacteria forms greenish or yellowish algal rafts and piles up in coastal water. In spring, yellowish pollen from coniferous trees may also be present in the water. Unlike cyanobacteria, pollen is found not only on the surface water but also, for example, on piers or yard furniture.
Cyanobacteria dissolve into tiny particles in the water if you touch the algal mass with a stick. If the algae become attached to the stick, they are something other than cyanobacteria. In a water vessel, cyanobacteria rise to the surface as tiny greenish particles within about an hour.
- Read more about How do you recognize blue-green algae?
Cyanobacterial observations also in the Itämeri.fi and vesi.fi services
The cyanobacterial maps presented on the websites MarineFinland.fi and Vesi.fi combine the observations reported to the Järvi-meriwiki and from the beaches of the City of Helsinki, as well as the observations based on satellite interpretations made by Syke during the last three days.
Summer 2023 algae forecast:
Warm and calm weather conditions can lead to powerful blooms of blue-green algae in the Baltic Sea 2023-06-01
• TARKKA, satellite observation service
(Telephone 1 pm to 3 pm)
Lakes: Tel +358 50 5734 347 or +358 295 251 326
State of the Baltic Sea: Tel +358 50 5693 297 or +358 295 251 314
Satellite observations: Tel +358 50 4707 576 or +358 295 251 329, e-mail: Eotuki@syke.fi
Numbers starting with +358 295: price determined by the caller’s operator.
Photo: Blue-green algae outbreaks can turn bluish or cyan (“blue-green”) when they disintegrate. © Laura Härkönen