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ALGAL BLOOM Some questions and answers

Text: Gunnar Aneer and Susanna Lfgren


This page presents most of what you need to know concerning algal blooms. The material consists of the contents from a report published in 1996 by the Information Office for the Baltic Proper at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. The text material in this version is slightly modified and updated compared to the original report. We have put in new material in this version. It is important to note that some of the information presented is intended primarily for Swedish conditions. Things might be different in other countries. The information presented here comes largely from background material to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agencys report " Skadliga alger i sjar och hav" (Harmful algae in lakes and seas) which was published during the autumn 1995 (see attached reference list at the end of this document). The information is also based on direct contacts with different specialists in Sweden and Finland. The questions and answers have been grouped according to the headlines presented below.

Last up-date: July 5, 2007

Foreword
The Information Office for the Baltic Proper was established at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm in 1992 as a consequence of the Swedish Government environment bill 1990:90/91 "A good environment for living", in which it was proposed establishment of marine information offices at the county administrative boards in those counties where marine research centres had been placed (the Counties of Gothenburg and Bohus, Stockholm and Vsterbotten). The three information offices each cover one specific sea area. The Information Office for the Baltic Proper has to monitor and inform about the area from the land Sea to the Sound (resund) between Sweden and Denmark. The establishment of the information offices took place as a direct result of the experiences gained from the information problems that arose around the massive seal death and the occurrence of the so called "killer alga" in 1988 on the Swedish West coast. An important and dominating task for the information offices is to be able to report almost immediately on large-scale events in the marine environment (e.g. about algal blooms, massive animal kills, and oxygen deficiency situations) but they should also be able to provide general information about the marine environment. This summary of questions and answers has been produced as a direct consequence of the intense inquiry pressure by the public in connection with the algal blooms during the summers of 1994 and 1995 in the Baltic Sea. The lack of compiled, documented information about algal blooms and their possible effects then became evident. This summary is an example of other information than the usually short information reports which more or less regularly are transmitted to authorities, mass media and others. We hope that this report will constitute a useful background material for those who in the first place may be expected to receive questions from the public, i.e. civil servants at offices for environment and health protection in municipalities, at the environment departments of county boards, at health care centres, at research institutes, and at a number of other authorities. It must be mentioned that this summary primarily is directed at conditions in the Baltic Proper, i.e. from the land Sea down to the Sound, but that the material to a limited extent summarizes also conditions in fresh water and in the Kattegat - Skagerrak area. Warm thanks go to Lena Kautsky and Susanna Hajdu at the Stockholm Marine Research Centre, Department of Botany and Department of Systems Ecology respectively, to Roland Mattsson, the National Swedish Veterinary Institute, Uppsala, to Ulrika Assargrd, the Swedish Toxin Information

Central, and to some others who all have contributed valuable comments to the contents, and whose comments have made this report better than it otherwise would have become. Stockholm, June 1996

Bjrn Risinger
Head of the Environment Department County Administrative Board of Stockholm

CONTENTS
Foreword ....................................................................................... 3 CONTENTS .................................................................................... 5 What is algal bloom? .................................................................... 8
What is "algal bloom"?................................................................................... 8 How do I recognize an algal bloom?............................................................. 8 Are algal blooms natural?.............................................................................. 8 What kinds of different algae are there? ...................................................... 9 What is phytoplankton? ................................................................................. 9 What are blue-green algae? ........................................................................... 9 What are attached algae?............................................................................... 9 What is the difference between cyanobacteria and algae?...................... 10 Is it possible for me to know what species it is that blooms? ................. 10 How do I see that it is Nodularia spumigena that blooms?...................... 11 Are there other algal blooms, which may be mixed up with Nodulariablooms? ......................................................................................................... 11

How come there are algal blooms?........................................... 13


How come there are algal blooms? ............................................................ 13 When do algal blooms turn up? .................................................................. 14 Where may algal blooms show up? (fresh, marine and brackish waters)14 How long does a bloom last? ...................................................................... 15 Have algal blooms increased during the last couple of years?............... 15

What are the risks?..................................................................... 16


How dangerous is it?.................................................................................... 16 Who run the greatest risk of being affected? ............................................ 16 Can I take a swim?........................................................................................ 17 When do I have to avoid taking a swim?.................................................... 17 Could it be dangerous even if the water looks normal?........................... 18 What do I do if I get an involuntary gulp of sea water? ............................ 18 Is it possible for me to end up in trouble if I use water containing algae to throw on my sauna stove?........................................................................... 18 Is there any danger in using drinking water produced by a desalination machine (of reversed osmosis type)? ........................................................ 18 Is there a danger for fish in aquacultures? ................................................ 18

How harmful is the algal bloom?............................................... 20


For how long are the toxins active? ........................................................... 21 How much water do humans need to swallow to get ill? ......................... 21 How much water does an animal have to swallow to get ill?................... 21 Which are the symptoms of algal poisoning? ........................................... 21

Which are the symptoms for humans? ...................................................... 21 Which are the symptoms for animals?....................................................... 21 How long time does it take from the time one has swallowed algae until one gets ill? ................................................................................................... 22 For how long is a person ill? ....................................................................... 22 Is stomach illness caused by algae contagious?...................................... 22 Are there other illnesses or the like that may give rise to symptoms similar to algal poisoning? ....................................................................................... 22 Are there other bacteria than cyanobacteria in the water that may give similar symptoms as algal poisoning?....................................................... 22

How do I avoid problems? ......................................................... 23


How do I/my domestic animals avoid problems?...................................... 23 How do I protect my animals? ..................................................................... 23 What do I do if I/my children/animals have been in direct contact with harmful algae?............................................................................................... 23 What can I do for my fish farm? .................................................................. 23 Is it possible to cancel my summerhouse booking due to algal blooms?23

What to do if affected by algal blooms? ................................... 24


What to do if I think I have been stricken with illness by algal blooms? 24 What to do if I think my domestic animals have been poisoned by algae? ........................................................................................................................ 24

Which species are known as harmful? ..................................... 25


Which species are possibly harmful.. ..................................................... 25 ... in the Baltic Sea? ...................................................................................... 25 ... in fresh water? .......................................................................................... 25 ... in the Kattegat-Skagerrak area?.............................................................. 25

Is it possible to eat fish and shellfish from affected waters? . 26


Can I eat fish from waters with algal blooms?........................................... 26 What about shellfish?................................................................................... 26 Can I eat fish from fish farms in affected waters?..................................... 26 Can I eat mussels (e.g. blue mussels and oysters)? ................................ 26 Which organisms may become toxic in water with algae? ...................... 27

Is it possible to purify water rich in algae?............................... 28


Is there a risk for algae/toxin to be present in drinking water? ............... 28 Does the toxin disappear if I bring the water with algae/toxin to the boil?28 Can I cook potatoes/wash the dishes in water with algal bloom without any risk? ........................................................................................................ 28 Is there a risk that toxin is present in drinking water processed by a drinking water machine for desalination of sea water (among others a so called reversed-osmosis machine)?........................................................... 28 Is there anything to do about an algal bloom? .......................................... 28

Where do I turn to if I would like to know more, or if I detect an algal bloom?................................................................................ 30

Where do I turn to if I want to know more? ................................................ 30 Where do I turn to if I detect an algal bloom?............................................ 30 What do I do if I find sick or dead animals that I suspect have been poisoned by algae? ...................................................................................... 30

How does one take a sample for species and toxicity determination? ............................................................................ 32
How are samples taken for species and toxicity determination respectively? ................................................................................................. 32 Who carries out the determinations? ......................................................... 32

Toxin types .................................................................................. 33 Different species of cyanobacteria and phytoplankton which may be harmful and which occur in Swedish sea areas ......... 34
Table 1............................................................................................................ 34 Table 2............................................................................................................ 35 Table 3............................................................................................................ 36

CONTACT ADDRESSES ............................................................. 38


Species analysis of algae............................................................................. 39

REFERENCE LIST ON LITERATURE ON HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS ...................................................................................... 40 Figures......................................................................................... 43

What is algal bloom?


What is "algal bloom"?
The term algal bloom means that freely buoyant (planktonic), very small (microscopic) algae (phytoplankton) occur in such amounts in the water that this clearly become turbid, coloured or, under certain circumstances, is covered by obvious accumulations of floating masses at the surface. Most algal blooms are very important and constitute food for small, freely buoyant animals (zooplankton), which in their turn are eaten by bigger animals, e.g. the Baltic herring. However, some algal blooms consist of species that may produce toxins and which may constitute health hazards for both humans and animals. It is the latter type of blooms that this report is primarily about.

How do I recognize an algal bloom?


Algal blooms may look very different. The water may for instance become green, blue-green, yellowish or red to red-brownish, clearly turbid and/or filled by small needle-like or point-like phytoplankton (see figures). Under normal, non-harmful blooms the water is often only clearly turbid. Algal blooms may sometimes occur in clumps, "flocks", and sometimes in dense masses at the surface. Certain blooms are very limited locally, sometimes only a few metres wide spots. Others may cover entire bays, lakes, and huge areas of the open sea. The latter types often show up obvious differences in concentration. The blooms may be clearly gathered in "streaks" or "wind roses" (see figures 1, 2, 3, 13 and 16) in areas where phytoplankton are concentrated by wind and waves. But they may also occur evenly spread out in the water column. Blooms are often concentrated at shores and close to capes/points of islands or the mainland (see figures 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 25, 27 and 28).

Are algal blooms natural?


An algal bloom is in fact a phenomenon, which is very normal, very important and regularly occurring. The term algal bloom, means that phytoplankton strongly increase in numbers during a limited period of time thanks to a good supply of nutrients. A massive spring and a smaller autumn bloom take place every year for instance. Diatoms dominate both blooms. They may change the colour of the water. But none of the diatoms blooming in the spring or in the autumn are known as potentially toxic. However, some genera of diatoms (such as Chaetoceros) may sometimes cause problems to fish, but without producing toxin.

What kinds of different algae are there?


There are freely buoyant (planktonic) so-called phytoplankton and algae that are attached to bottom substrata. Phytoplankton are divided into several groups, just like the attached algae. The latter are often belt forming and common types are green algae, brown algae and red algae. Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, as they ought to be called, are not algae in the true sense but a kind of bacteria.

What is phytoplankton?
Phytoplankton are freely buoyant, often very small algae in the water for which a microscope is a normal tool to make species determination possible. There are also large phytoplankton species, but they are not common in our waters.

What are blue-green algae?


Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, as they are called scientifically, are a group of organisms that in fact is not algae but rather a kind of bacteria. However, they grow so big, and have certain similarities with groups of phytoplankton that they formerly were systematically sorted under the group of algae. To this group belong the species, which in the summertime normally account for most of the reports about troublesome "algal blooms" in the Baltic Sea, Nodularia spumigena (see figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25). It is also the only species in the open Baltic Sea, which is known to be toxic at times. The other species may be toxic and are therefore to be treated with respect. There are also very tiny blue-green algae, so called pico-bluegreen algae. They are only 0.2 - 2 m (1 m = 1 millionth of a meter) in size and have so far not been given much attention.

What are attached algae?


Attached algae occur in many forms and in varying sizes. They may be everything from small microscopic ones, over filamentous brown, red and green ones up to several decimetres or metres long, rough brown algae, like the bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus). The names given to the different algal groups, brown, red and green algae, are dependent on coloured pigments in the algae that give them a dominant hue. Many of the attached algae form belts along the shores. Closest to the surface you normally find filamentous green and brown algae. Then, at about a depth of 0,5 m, they are replaced by belt-forming, coarse brown algae, like bladder wrack and

similar. Below these, often from a depth of about 5-6 m or deeper, a belt of red algae occur. When algal blooms are present, these are not the kind of species on which the focus is placed. However, certain filamentous species of the attached ones may, when torn loose, look like the freely buoyant ones that cause algal blooms. Examples of attached algae are e.g. species of the genera Cladophora, Pilayella and Ectocarpus, which are often torn loose and may occur in rich amounts close to the shores or which may lie as sludge at the waters edge (see figure 8). To be sure of what type of alga you deal with you may pour the algal sludge through a sieve. The difference between the filamentous algae and blooming cyanobacteria, when they occur in dense accumulations, is that the cyanobacterial bloom generally passes the sieve while the sieve catches almost all of the filamentous algae. Really high concentrations of the cyanobacteria Nodularia spumigena might however also get caught in a sieve.

What is the difference between cyanobacteria and algae?


Cyanobacteria and algae differ in many ways. One important difference is that bacteria do not have a clearly marked cell nucleus. They also differ from most planktonic algal groups by not having a flagellum (a "tail" to steer and move about with). Cyanobacteria also have other photosynthetic pigments (accessory pigments to chlorophyll) than algae. They also differ in that they have another composition of their cell membranes and another type of metabolism.

Is it possible for me to know what species it is that blooms?


For the general public it is normally impossible to make sure what species is/are present in a bloom. The Environment and Health Offices of the municipalities (in Sweden at least) ought to be able to determine a few of the more common species. To know for sure what species is involved it is necessary to turn to a phytoplankton specialist. An ordinary light microscope and suitable literature for determination of "algae" may be sufficient for determination of some major species. For several smaller species access to an electron microscope is necessary. (In Sweden Tikkanen & Willn: Vxtplanktonflora, published by the Swedish Environment Protection Agency in 1992, may be a good guidance for species that are clearly visible in a light microscope). There are simple pocket microscopes available in shops (cost around 100-200 SEK). With the help of such, certain bigger species may be acceptably determined in the field.

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How do I see that it is Nodularia spumigena that blooms?


For non-specialists it is normally not possible to determine what species is present with an unaided eye. But the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena occurs in the open sea and in coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. It often occurs as clear, rather well limited accumulations/streaks (see figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 13,16, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25) of yellowish-green algal masses at or near the surface. The streaks may be several hundreds of metres in extension and differ normally very markedly from adjacent, clean water areas. In the streaks the algae often occur in marked "flocks" or lumps. Many people compare the occurrences to rhubarb soup-rhubarb cream (depending on the amounts). When the species "blooms" much of the algal masses float at the surface (se figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25). By wind and waves they may be brought to the shores where they may be further concentrated. Blooms of Nodularia spumigena are most common at the height of summer, i.e. in July-August. However, they may also occur at other times of year. For instance, accumulations have been recorded in the autumn (October-November). If one looks closely enough one will see that the flocks consist of minor filaments. Under a microscope the species is characteristic (see e.g. figures in "Vxtplanktonflora" by Tikkanen and Willn, published by the Swedish Environment Protection Agency in 1992). A bloom of Nodularia spumigena does normally pass a sieve, strainer or similar if the mesh-size is not very small (< 1 mm). A minor amount of the Nodularia-filaments may get stuck in the meshes of the sieve (as do filaments of other cyanobacteria). Accumulations of filamentous algae, like Cladophora, Pilayella and Ectocarpus and similar, may also float at the surface in big lumps (see figure 8). These do normally get stuck to about 100 % in the sieve.

Are there other algal blooms, which may be mixed up with Nodularia-blooms?
Yes. As it is difficult for a non-specialist to determine with certainty what species it is, there is also a risk for mistakes/mix-ups when blooms are concerned. The colour of blooms may vary substantially and normally a microscope is needed to carry out a proper species determination. Several blooms often consist of more than one species and many of those may be harmful. Nodularia spumigena is a species, which occurs in brackish waters, in the Baltic Sea. Exceptionally it may be found also in the Sound-Kattegat. It is most common in the open sea but often drift in towards shores during periods of calm and, most often, warm weather. Some of the species, which possibly could be mistaken for Nodularia spumigena, may also be harmful/toxic. Nodularia spumigena uses to be one of the dominant species in the

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blooms at sea during the height of summer. There are three species of Nodularia in the Baltic Sea. Cyanobacteria of the genera Anabaena (see figures 5, 6 and 7) and Aphanizomenon (see figure 20) are periodically common offshore, and they may also occur at the same time as Nodularia spumigena (see figure 8). Blooms of these species are often more blue-green in colour but may sometimes be difficult to distinguish from blooms of Nodularia spumigena. In sea water diluted by fresh water (in the inner parts of coastal areas where watercourses enter the sea and reduces the salinity) the genera Planktothrix and Microcystis do also occur (see figures 9, 10, 11 and 12). Blooms of these species are often more blue-green to green in colour. In nutrient rich lakes it is not uncommon with blooms of, among others, cyanobacteria of the genera Anabaena, Aphanizomenon, Microcystis and Planktothrix. All of these may be harmful. In early summer (often at the end/beginning of May-June) pine trees, among others, release their pollen. It is common that pollen that accumulates on the sea surface in accumulations may look like algal blooms. Accumulations of pollen are often yellowish.

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How come there are algal blooms?


How come there are algal blooms?
The blooms are dependent upon that favourable physical chemical and biological conditions give the algae possibilities to reproduce in mass quantities. Some of the factors, which govern the growth of algae, are among others light, temperature and nutrient conditions. The exact reasons are still not understood. Still there are many questions to solve, among those the importance of the occurrence of different trace elements. The prerequisites for blooms in different phytoplankton, cyanobacteria included, differ between species. Algae, like other plants, are dependent on access of different nutrients for growth. The nutrients are to occur in certain proportions for an optimal growth. If any of the necessary substances is available only in a limited amount, that substance determines the extent of growth. Phosphorus and nitrogen are among the most important nutrients for algae. In the summertime, when nature "runs at top speed", it is normal that, among other things, there are not sufficient amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen of the right types in the water. Sometimes it happens that bottom water, which may be brought up to the surface during windy weather, may bring up much phosphorus. If, at the same time, nitrogen is missing in the right form, ordinary algae are not able to make use of the phosphorus present. Cyanobacteria, on the other hand, have the ability to use nitrogen from the air (molecular nitrogen) dissolved in the water. That form of nitrogen is not accessible for ordinary algae. Therefore, cyanobacteria may grow rapidly when phosphorus is available in excess and when other necessary elements are available. The risk for blue-green algal blooms increases when the relationship (ratio) between the amounts of available nitrogen and phosphorus is low. At ratios below 30 the risk for massive development is possible, and at ratios in the interval 5 - 15 it is likely that massive development occurs. Besides, cyanobacteria are able to regulate their ability to float, which makes it possible for them, at calm weather, to stay at the surface, and thus reduce the competition from other species by shading them and at the same time make use of most possible sunlight. Species like Nodularia spumigena usually demand a rather high water temperature, if possible between 18 and 25 degrees centigrade in order to bloom. Cyanobacteria of the genera Aphanizomenon and Anabaena only demand around 15 to 20 degrees for best growth. But, the species may bloom also at much lower temperatures.

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During late autumn and winter great quantities of nutrients that have been stored in living or dead matter are released and become stored in the water column. During late winter-early spring, when sunlight increases again, the first massive algal bloom takes place. Diatoms normally dominate this bloom, the so-called spring bloom. This bloom normally passes without leaving many traces even if the turbidity of the water increases and secchi depth readings decreases. Other types of algae then successively replace the diatoms but the blooms are not as strong anymore as much of the available nutrients have been stored in the diatoms, which gradually die and fall towards the sea floor. The stored nutrients are not released until much later during the year. Therefore a certain limitation of algal growth takes place after the spring bloom. During summer there is most often a shortage of free nutrients in the water column and available nutrients (coming from land or which have been released in other ways) are used practically instantly by the algae.

When do algal blooms turn up?


Algal blooms may turn up more or less throughout the whole year, but the potentially harmful blooms are most common at the height of summer (JulyAugust) and during parts of the autumn. In some areas of the Baltic Sea, in the Gulf of Riga and in the Curonian Lagoon for example, blooms seem to be more frequent and do occur also in the spring. During the last couple of years local accumulations, some documented as toxic, have been recorded in the Baltic Sea, e.g. in the Stockholm archipelago, even as late as in November. Every year there are also blooms of harmless species. During late winter/spring (February-April/May) a massive so called spring bloom occurs, which is normally dominated by diatoms. Smaller blooms of other species of algae follow it during spring and summer. In the autumn it is again common with a somewhat major bloom before light becomes too weak to produce major blooms. The ordinary spring and autumn blooms do normally not lead to surface accumulations.

Where may algal blooms show up? (fresh, marine and brackish waters)
Algal blooms may turn up in all kinds of waters. They occur both offshore, at coasts and in lakes and watercourses all over the world. Harmful blooms may occur in all of these environments. Blooms of cyanobacteria occur both in fresh and brackish waters. Dinoflagellate and flagellate blooms occur in brackish (in the Baltic Sea) and purely marine waters.

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How long does a bloom last?


The visible part of an algal bloom may be very short, or may go on for weeks. This accounts for several species of cyanobacteria. The length of the bloom period depends, among other things, on weather development and the type of species involved. Warm and calm summer weather favours blooms of cyanobacteria while windy weather break up the blooms and make them disappear. During the summer high-pressure periods blooms occurring at sea are often of large scale. At the most they last about a month. During autumn and early winter there are often small-scale blooms or accumulations at shores in coastal areas. They partly consist of the same species as the large-scale blooms of summer, but the proportions are often different. Still, they may be harmful. For how long a bloom goes on also depends on the availability of nutrients. Good nutrient conditions are basic prerequisites for a bloom. The weather also affects the development and plays an important role in determining whether a bloom will start to develop and/or end.

Have algal blooms increased during the last couple of years?


Blooms of cyanobacteria seem to have increased during the last couple of years. But there are also signs indicating a periodic occurrence of blooms. One reason for increased presence of blooms could be the increased amounts of nutrients in our waters. Generally speaking, the Baltic seems to have been subject to a strong eutrophication during the last decades.

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What are the risks?


How dangerous is it?
Some phytoplankton species contain or excrete toxins that may cause feelings of light sickness, skin reactions, conjunctivitis (eye irritation), swollen lips, pain in the ears, soar throats, hay fever, fever, head ache and/or stomach/intestinal problems with feeling of illness, vomiting and diarrhoea, but may also have a lethal effect (the latter is most common in domestic and wild animals). Please, note that this information predominantly is concerned with the Baltic Sea area. There are other areas in the world where the problems are bigger. Domestic animals and wild animals are those groups that run the greatest risk of being affected in connection with algal blooms. Animals that drink water rich in algae may become seriously ill and may also die from poisoning. For adult humans the risk is normally small of being affected. The prerequisite for becoming affected with really serious problems (disregarding the skin problems) is that one has swallowed larger amounts of water containing algal toxins. For adult humans such poisoning is a minor problem as the water normally does not look pleasant and may smell so bad that no one ought to think of drinking the water or to take a swim in it. Children, on the other hand, who much more easily swallow involuntary gulps of water, run a greater risk. In the Kattegat - Skagerrak area there is a certain risk for becoming poisoned by algal toxins through consumption of mussels and oysters.

Who run the greatest risk of being affected?


The dominating risk groups are domestic animals (for example dogs, sheep, cattle and horses) and wild animals which do not hesitate to drink lake or seawater and which do not care about presence of algae in the water. Besides, dogs prefer water with a bad smell and the majority of domestic animals do not hesitate to drink saline water. In the summertime they do even prefer seawater to fresh water as the first mentioned type contains salt that they want. Dogs (primarily, but also other domestic animals) which walk into water rich in phytoplankton and which then lick themselves run a very great risk of being affected by poisoning symptoms. It may be enough for a dog to lick its paws to be a victim of serious troubles.

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Children (especially small children) are another risk group as they often swallow involuntary gulps of water. They do not have the same ability to keep the mouth shut as adults have, and therefore they may swallow rather big quantities of water involuntarily. Therefore, small children ought to be kept away from waters with blooms or be kept under good supervision.

Can I take a swim?


It may go well to swim in waters with a bloom. But there is always a risk for being affected by e.g. skin irritations or other problems such as ear pain, soar throat and head ache. Several species, among others Nodularia spumigena are considered to be able to cause skin irritations. In such cases they often contain a dermatotoxin (i.e. a skin-affecting toxin). (See also Toxin types and Tables 1, 2 and 3). It is not possible to judge by looking at the water whether a bloom causes skin irritations or not. To be on the safe side it is better not to take a swim. The cyanobacteria species Planktothrix agardhii and Nodularia spumigena are, for example, considered to give rise to skin irritations/problems just like the genus Microcystis (among others the species M. aeruginosa). Another problem with swimming/bathing in water rich in algae is that one runs the risk of an involuntary gulp of water. It is difficult to stop small children and domestic animals, like dogs for instance, from, intentionally or unintentionally, swallowing water with an algal bloom or with lots of phytoplankton if they are allowed to be in the water. If there are lots of phytoplankton or an algal bloom in the water it may be enough with minor quantities of water to face problems. It is difficult to give a general answer to how much water a man needs to swallow to get sick. Most often it is a major quantity, several involuntary gulps. Certain domestic animals often drink so much water that they swallow lethal doses of algal toxins. However, it is not possible to tell whether the water is dangerous or not without taking and analysing a toxicity sample. Nodularia spumigena have been shown to be toxic in more than 50 % of the samples taken. Therefore, act with care.

When do I have to avoid taking a swim?


Avoid swimming when the water looks unpleasant, i.e. when the water is evidently turbid or miscoloured by accumulations of algae (see figures). Similarly it is most safe to avoid swimming also a period after the algal bloom has disappeared if the weather has been very calm and the water exchange is bad in the area. Under such circumstances one should rather look for more exposed places to swim. Places with a good water exchange and without signs of algal blooms. If possible, choose such places where you know that blooms have not been present lately.

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Could it be dangerous even if the water looks normal?


Yes, but this generally accounts mostly for animals as they gladly drink the water. Under extreme conditions toxins may be present up to a month although the algae have been decomposed. This may happen during calm weather and in very protected shores/places (places not exposed to good water exchange). See also the previous question.

What do I do if I get an involuntary gulp of sea water?


Usually it takes larger quantities of water to get sick. But wait and see and be observant of symptoms indicating presence of algal toxins in the water. Should you get skin troubles, eye troubles or symptoms like feeling sick, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, you ought to contact a doctor.

Is it possible for me to end up in trouble if I use water containing algae to throw on my sauna stove?
Finnish experts advise against using algal rich water to throw on sauna stoves when taking a sauna bath. As the toxins are considered to be thermostable, i.e. they stand very high temperatures, there is a risk that you may inhale the toxins when the water is vaporized (becomes an aerosol) on the sauna stove.

Is there any danger in using drinking water produced by a desalination machine (of reversed osmosis type)?
Pilot experiments carried out with desalination machines (Bluhm and rnstedt, 2003) have shown that the examined machines may let algal toxins pass through to the produced drinking water. In tests carried out with Nodularia spumigena the filtration efficiency was generally good. Measurable level of Nodularin in the produced drinking water was only found in test with one old machine. The pore size and the condition of the filters were of major importance. The pore size is often around 5 m. It was also noted that the so-called pico-cyanobacteria might pass the filters in a relatively high percentage. The latter cyanobacteria group has sizes of 0.2 - 2 m and may constitute up to around 50 per cent of the cyanobacteria biomass without being seen on the water surface. Therefore it may not be excluded that the possibility for algal toxins to pass through the filters may give rise to serious effects. Such effects may even arise through low dose exposure during longer periods of time.

Is there a danger for fish in aquacultures?


Fish in aquaculture (fish farm) cages and wild fish may be affected by problems in connection with certain types of blooms. Species within the genus Prymnesium may kill fish. During the big Chrysochromulina polylepis-bloom in Kattegat - Skagerrak area and in Norway in 1988 large

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quantities of fish died in aquaculture cages. Big diatoms of the genus Chaetoceros may clog the gills of fish by inducing mucus production. This may lead to suffocation of the fish. The dinoflagellate Gyrodinium aureolum, which is present in the Kattegat - Skagerrak area, has killed fish and mussels on several occasions. Certain algal blooms may also cause oxygen deficiency in the water. The oxygen deficiency results from oxygen consumption during decomposition of the large quantities of phytoplankton. Oxygen deficiency may also cause problems to fish farms under unfavourable conditions. In Denmark and Norway, for instance, Prymnesium parvum and Gymnodinium aureolum have caused oxygen deficiency in the water and that in its turn caused fish kills in fish farms. Also wild fish may die from oxygen deficiency caused by e.g. Prymnesium parvum. Such deaths have taken place for example in the Stockholm area in the beginning of the 1990:ies.

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How harmful is the algal bloom?


What types of toxins are there? (See also Toxin types) Phytoplankton produce several types of toxins. Certain species may contain many different varieties of which several may be lethal. The latter is primarily valid for animals. Deaths in humans caused by algal poisoning are not known to have taken place in Sweden. Some of the most common toxins are:

Neurotoxins (liver toxins)


Common in cyanobacteria like Aphanizomenon, Anabaena, Nodularia and others. Neurotoxins also occur in other types of algae.

Hepatotoxins (liver toxins)


Occur among cyanobacteria like Nodularia, among others.

Dermatotoxins (skin toxins)


Skin irritations may be caused by the genera Nodularia, Planktothrix and Microcystis among others.

PSP-toxins (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning)


Common toxins, soluble in water, among certain dinoflagellates of the genera Alexandrium, Gymnodinium, Pyrodinium and others but do also occur in cyanobacteria like Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. The most known toxin groups are saxitoxin and mytilotoxin that affects nerves and muscle cells.

DSP-toxins (Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning)


is a group of fat soluble toxins which occur in dinoflagellates. Okada acid poisoning causes "stomach illness" and occurs sometimes in dinoflagellate blooms in the Kattegat - Skagerrak area. The toxin may be accumulated in blue mussels, which sometimes turn toxic. The telephone answering machine "The Blue Mussel" (+ 46 31 60 52 90) provides information about possible occurrence of algal toxins in mussels on the Swedish west coast.

ASP-toxin (Amnetic Shellfish Poisoning)


occurs in certain diatoms.

Chrysochromulina - Prymnesium toxins


A type of toxins that affect the cell membranes and their permeability. Caused very big problems on the Swedish west coast in 1988 with death in fish and many other organisms in the water. But the species have also occurred in more local blooms, e.g. in the Stockholm area with fish kills as

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results in the beginning of the 1990:ies. The cause of death is believed to have been oxygen deficiency.

For how long are the toxins active?


The period of activity of the toxins vary depending on a number of factors. Under circumstances where the water exchange is normal the toxins disappear with the algae. The algae are decomposed and the toxins are diluted. In fresh waters and under very calm conditions, e.g. in protected coves/bays and shores, toxicity has been recorded up to a month after the end of the bloom. For how long a possible toxicity stays also depends on the species in the bloom. It is not possible to see whether the water is toxic or not. Only a toxicity test can give a reliable answer on whether it is dangerous or not.

How much water do humans need to swallow to get ill?


It may be sufficient with a few involuntary gulps of water, but normally larger quantities of water is needed to get symptoms like feeling sick, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

How much water does an animal have to swallow to get ill?


It is difficult to give a general answer as it depends on the concentration of phytoplankton, whether these are toxic or not, the amount of toxin present etc. The size of the animal also plays a role. For dogs it may be sufficient to lick their paws after having walked in water rich in phytoplankton. For sheep about 0.5 - 1 litre of water may be sufficient to die, for cattle 5 - 10 litres could be a lethal dose.

Which are the symptoms of algal poisoning?


The first symptoms are similar in humans and animals: feeling sick, vomiting, diarrhoea and possibly fever. Differences between humans and animals are that the latter run a higher risk of getting a larger dose of toxin, as they do not care whether the water is turbid or smells badly.

Which are the symptoms for humans?


The symptoms are similar to those that show up upon, for instance food poisoning: feeling sick, vomiting, diarrhoea and possibly fever. It is also possible to get ear pain, headache and irritation in the eyes.

Which are the symptoms for animals?


It is common that the animal rather quickly displays vomiting, problems to move and diarrhoea. If the animal has consumed large quantities of toxin it may get strong cramp/convulsions and turn unconscious.

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How long time does it take from the time one has swallowed algae until one gets ill?
It depends on the concentrations of algae among other things, but generally it is a matter of hours before stomach illness symptoms start to appear in humans. How long time it takes between consumption and symptoms in animals also depends on dose and type of toxin. For hepatotoxins it may pass between 2 48 hours. For neurotoxins the time to the first symptom may be about 20 60 minutes. The rapid process in some of the poisonings therefore makes it important with a rapid transport of the animal to a veterinarian.

For how long is a person ill?


As this depends on the type of toxin and the quantities consumed it is difficult to give a simple answer. For humans it is usually a question of one or a few days of "stomach illness". Even when the stomach symptoms have disappeared one may feel bad for some day.

Is stomach illness caused by algae contagious?


No.

Are there other illnesses or the like that may give rise to symptoms similar to algal poisoning?
Yes, e.g. "summer illness", caused by consumption of food products not treated properly, but also other illnesses may be mistaken for algal poisoning. The common denominator for these illnesses and algal poisoning is stomach illness.

Are there other bacteria than cyanobacteria in the water that may give similar symptoms as algal poisoning?
Yes, the bacterium Escherichia coli, coliform bacteria and faecal streptococci, which also occur naturally in our intestinal flora, may at high concentrations cause stomach illness problems. Also certain viruses, as well as algal poisoning, may cause stomach and intestinal problems if the water is swallowed. Primarily small children run the greatest risk of being affected. However, under normal conditions this should not be any problem as the municipalities (or similar authorities) are responsible for monitoring of bacterial presence at public beaches (this is valid within the European Union). It is also possible that bacteria present in connection with cyanobacteria may be able to cause symptoms similar to cases of algal poisoning. Such connections are not clearly proven.

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How do I avoid problems?


How do I/my domestic animals avoid problems?
Avoid direct contact with waters where an algal bloom is going, and/or avoid contacts with algal masses washed ashore. Sea weeds/algal masses on the beaches (e.g. bladder wrack washed ashore) are normally no problem, but as cyanobacteria may also be washed ashore (see figure 9) it is safer to keep domestic animals away. Avoid drinking water with phytoplankton. In connection with the latter, it could be mentioned that simple systems for drinking water consisting of tubes/pipes bringing water directly from a lake into summer houses and without a really good filter system might be a source to problems, especially if the inlet is placed in shallow waters. This type of systems is sometimes common in summer cottages close to lakes. If possible, try to avoid using lake water for cooking and drinking when bluegreen algal blooms are going on and you have such a system.

How do I protect my animals?


Domestic animals are definitely to be kept away from contacts with algal blooms in the water or washed ashore. Major accumulations of floating masses of filamentous algae do normally not constitute any risk. However, it is difficult for the general public to distinguish between such masses and a heavy, concentrated algal bloom. Try to stay on the safe side.

What do I do if I/my children/animals have been in direct contact with harmful algae?
A person who has taken a swim in or moved about in phytoplankton-rich water can avoid or reduce problems by, as soon as possible, washing with clean, fresh water. Wash properly and make sure that no traces of phytoplankton are left. If possible, wash the skin with soap and water.

What can I do for my fish farm?


If it is practically possible the net cages ought to be moved to an area free of algal blooms. This reduces the risk for harmful effects on the fish. Nodularia spumigena, Microcystis aeruginosa, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, Chrysochromulina polylepis and Prymnesium parvum are some species considered harmful to fish.

Is it possible to cancel my summerhouse booking due to algal blooms?


It is less likely.

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What to do if affected by algal blooms?


What to do if I think I have been stricken with illness by algal blooms?
People who get skin or eye troubles, or who in other ways feel sick ought to get in touch with a doctor. Adults may wait and see if the symptoms/troubles are light while children have to be examined, as it is difficult to judge how much water they have swallowed. In cases of eye irritation rinse the eyes carefully. Skin that has been in contact with water rich in algae shall be carefully rinsed and, in cases of irritation, shall be washed with soap and water.

What to do if I think my domestic animals have been poisoned by algae?


Contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

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Which species are known as harmful?


Which species are possibly harmful.. ... in the Baltic Sea?
Cyanobacteria: Microcystis aeruginosa and Nodularia spumigena. Locally also other species (Aphanizomenon species, Anabaena lemmermanni, Planktothrix agardhii) Diatoms: certain big species of the genus Chaetoceros Flagellates: Prymnesium parvum

... in fresh water?


Cyanobacteria: Aphanizomenon spp. (A. flos-aquae, A. gracile), Anabaena spp. (A. flos-aquae/A. lemmermannii), Planktothrix (former Oscillatoria) agardhii, Microcystis spp. (M. aeruginosa, M. viridis, M. wesenbergii)

... in the Kattegat-Skagerrak area?


Dinoflagellates: Alexandrium tamarense, Ceratium furca, C. fusus, C. longipes, C. tripos, Chrysochromulina polylepis, Dinophysis acuminata, D. acuta, D. norvegica, Dichtyocha speculum, Gyrodinium aureolum Diatoms: certain big species of the genus Chaetoceros Flagellates: Chrysochromulina leadbeateri, Chrysochromulina polylepis, Prymnesium parvum

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Is it possible to eat fish and shellfish from affected waters?


Can I eat fish from waters with algal blooms?
In the Baltic Sea it is unusual that people have become ill from eating fish. It is a general opinion that humans in the area normally do not get poisoned from fish meat consumption. In the Kaliningrad area, southern Baltic, people avoid eating fish, especially fish liver (and from burbot in particular) from fish caught in coastal lagoons. This is a result of numerous cyanobacteria blooms in the area. More than 1 000 cases of poisoning (the so called "Haff-disease") where people had eaten fish were reported from the southern Baltic Sea during the 1920-30:ies. Some of those cases resulted in deaths. It is generally believed that Microcystis-toxin (from Microcystis aeruginosa) was involved. There are few other cases of death in humans reported as far as we know.

What about shellfish?


Prawns, crayfish, lobsters and crabs are believed not to transfer algal toxins to humans. Mussels (e.g. blue mussels and oysters) have the ability to gather algal toxins and may cause harmful effects in humans who eat them.

Can I eat fish from fish farms in affected waters?


Yes, the farmed fish is raised on special feeds, which are not affected by the water environment. Therefore there is no risk that the farmed fish accumulates algal toxins. Fish meat is not considered to transmit algal toxins to humans.

Can I eat mussels (e.g. blue mussels and oysters)?


Blue mussels and oyster from the Kattegat - Skagerrak area are known to accumulate toxins from dinoflagellates, for instance DSP-toxins (see Toxin types). Through regular measurements of the level of okada acid in mussels from mussel farms in that area the toxicity is monitored. Okada acid is considered to be tumour generating. Information (in Swedish) about the situation of algal toxins in mussels on the Swedish west coast may be obtained by phoning the answering machine "The Blue Mussel" (+ 46 8 31 60 52 90).

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Which organisms may become toxic in water with algae?


Mussels like, for instance, blue mussels and oysters. Dinophysis-species produce DSP-toxin, which may cause stomach troubles in e.g. humans who have consumed mussels and/or oysters, primarily from the Kattegat Skagerrak area. Fish. The cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa is believed to have caused the so-called "Haff-disease". It was in the 1920-30:ies that a large number of people become ill after having eaten fish from the southern Baltic Sea. Some died. However, it is considered unusual to become poisoned through consumption of fish from the Baltic Sea. There is hardly any case recorded during more recent years. However, see comments earlier. Most common is that toxin producing phytoplankton species only affect those organisms that come in direct contact with them, or which swallow them. Chrysochromulina polylepis, in the Kattegat - Skagerrak area, e.g. had a directly lethal effect on wild and farmed fish.

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Is it possible to purify water rich in algae?


Is there a risk for algae/toxin to be present in drinking water?
The risk is generally considered to be small. Investigations are going on (see below on drinking-water machines).

Does the toxin disappear if I bring the water with algae/toxin to the boil?
Some toxins, among others from cyanobacteria, are considered to be thermo-stable, i.e. they withstand high temperatures, and are therefore not decomposed/broken down by boiling water. Therefore, it is recommended not to cook foods in water taken from an algal bloom.

Can I cook potatoes/wash the dishes in water with algal bloom without any risk?
See the question above.

Is there a risk that toxin is present in drinking water processed by a drinking water machine for desalination of sea water (among others a so called reversed-osmosis machine)?
There is no clear answer here. Information from one maker (Electrolux) means that in reversed-osmosis machines and machines of their own make (pressure filtering) possibly only a very reduced number of the toxin molecules should be able to pass those membranes/filters being used. Most molecules are much bigger than water molecules and the membranes/filters have such a small pore size that practically only water molecules are able to pass. This means that the risk ought to be small for toxins to pass the membranes and to cause poisoning. Expertise on provisions has not been able to leave a definite answer. Investigations are said to be carried out. We have no information concerning machines using evaporation (installed on some ships, for instance).

Is there anything to do about an algal bloom?


There are no good means for combating algal blooms. As the algae are limited by, for instance some nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, the most important measures are to reduce the levels of those in the water.

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There are different ways of doing this, but they seldom give a direct effect but are a measure that gives results on longer terms. As an example of an acute measure it could be mentioned that, in smaller lakes and in small water areas, addition of straw has proven to reduce the bloom. In order to achieve an effect the straw need to have been soaked in water for a longer period of time, and rather large quantities of straw are needed to obtain good results. This means that one, at the same time, runs a risk of further fertilizing the lake/water body, which may act against the primary aim.

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Where do I turn to if I would like to know more, or if I detect an algal bloom?


Where do I turn to if I want to know more?
The Environment and Health Office of the municipality where you are (at least if you are in Sweden) may provide some information, but generally not as much as presented on these pages. They have access to some leaflets about algal blooms ("Algblomning - vad r det?" and "Algblomning" published by the County Administrative Board of Stockholm and The National Swedish Veterinary Institute respectively in 1995. The leaflets are also available directly from the two authorities (see Contact addresses). It must be stressed here that this home page contains most information available and necessary. See also "Giftig alg brer ut sig i stersjn" article (in Swedish) in Forskning och Framsteg, no. 6, 1994, or other publications mentioned in the reference list attached at the end of this home page.

Where do I turn to if I detect an algal bloom?


Please, inform the local Environment and Health Office in your municipality in the first place. In the second place, inform the environment department at your county administrative board (or similar authority). This information was primarily meant for Swedish conditions. It may be different in other countries.

What do I do if I find sick or dead animals that I suspect have been poisoned by algae?
If you find sick or dead animals it is important to contact the Environment and Health Department/Office of your municipality office or with a veterinary institute (National Swedish Veterinary Institute, Uppsala, when in Sweden). If possible, do also inform the owner of the animals. Collect samples from stomach content, faeces, or material thrown up by the animal in order to establish whether cyanobacterial cells occur or not. If one suspects phytoplankton poisoning ("algal poisoning") in animals, or have received reports about skin problems among swimmers, it is recommended that samples be taken for species analysis and toxicity test. Such sampling may at times be carried out by the Environment and Health Department/Office in the municipality (at least in Sweden). Samples ought to be taken as soon as possible after the receipt of such a report. Winds and

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currents may move the bloom and therefore it might be difficult to prove an occurrence once too long a time has elapsed between report and sampling.

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How does one take a sample for species and toxicity determination?
(This part is intended for Sweden in the first place and is primarily directed at the Environment and Health Departments/Offices of the municipalities and the county administrative boards, or similar, and not to the general public)

How are samples taken for species and toxicity determination respectively?
A correct investigation demands both a sample for species analysis and one for toxicity test. The instructions below are valid for sampling of cyanobacteria!

Species determination: collect a water sample of about 100 ml a bit from


the shoreline. Keep the sample cool until analyzed by a specialist. It ought to arrive at the specialist within one, at the most two days (NOTE! For environment and health inspectors: If possible, add a few drops of formalin or Lugols solution at sampling to stop bacterial growth).

Toxicity test: Collect about 0.5 litre concentrated bloom sample in a plastic bottle. Try to use a plankton net (+) for collection. Collect the sample along the shoreline or reed belts where the accumulations use to be greatest. Freeze the sample in an ordinary freezer (around -20C) before you send it in. Attach information on station (and the clinical course of events in case of any case of illness) and provide information about who is responsible for the sample/sampling. + = in stead of a plankton net it is possible to use a nylon stocking, tights or a finely meshed, but permeable piece of cloth.

Who carries out the determinations?


Example of laboratories that analyse algal toxicity (in Sweden): Stockholm Vatten AB, tel: +46-(0)8- 522 120 00 Toxicon AB, Landskrona, tel: +46(0)418- 707 00

A more simple species determination may sometimes be carried out at the Environment and Health Department/Offices of the municipality. To be really sure, it is better to contact a phytoplankton specialist.

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Toxin types
Alkaloid neurotoxins (e.g. anatoxin, aphanotoxin). ASP = Amnetic Shellfish Poisoning (toxins which bring about gastrointestinal and neurologic problems, stomach-ache, amnesia, confusion; sometimes lethal). DSP = Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning. Of this kind of toxins presence of okada acid (tumour generating) is regularly studied on the Swedish west coast. GON = Goniodomin. Gyrodinium aureolum-toxiner - Hemolytic och neurotoxic toxins connected with the species. ICT = toxin poisoning fish. LPS = Lipopolysaccharid-endotoxins, are toxins built up by different saccharides and which are liberated when the cells are destroyed. Are present in a few different cyanobacteria and are less toxic than the neuro- and hepatotoxins. Are also less toxic than LPS from Salmonella bacteria. Are believed to cause, among other things, skin irritations and stomach/intestinal troubles. Microcystins - Toxic proteins, so called hepato(liver)toxins consisting of cyclic peptides with seven amino acids and which may be produced by the cyanobacteria genera Anabaena, Microcystis (the species M. aeruginosa), Oscillatoria and Planktothrix but also by the alga genus Nostoc. Neurotoxins - For example anatoxin-a och anatoxin-a(s), saxitoxin, neosaxitoxin, disturb all impulses between nerve cells and muscle cells, but in different ways. Anatoxin-a and anatoxin-a(s) stops decomposition of the signal substance acetylkoline, which lead to hyper stimulation of muscles and causes cramp. Saxitoxin affects the transmission of signals by affecting the ion balance in nerve cells. Nodularins - Toxic proteins, so called hepato(liver-)toxins consisting of cyklic peptides with five amino acids which, among others are produced by the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena, highly toxic. PSP = Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, watersoluble. Saxitoxins - Types of PSP-toxins, which affect the nerves and the brain, causes paralysis and breathing difficulties and may cause death, classified as chemical weapon! Toxic proteins and peptides, so called hepatotoxins (e.g. Microcystins och Nodularins). VSP = Venerupin Shellfish Poisoning.

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Different species of cyanobacteria and phytoplankton which may be harmful and which occur in Swedish sea areas
Table 1.
Phytoplankton species, which have caused documented harm in Swedish sea areas (from Edler 1995). The table show species, where they are found and what effect they may have.
Species Alexandrium tamarense Ceratium furca Ceratium fusus Ceratium longipes Ceratium tripos Chrysochromulina polylepis Dinophysis acuminata Dinophysis acuta Dinophysis norvegica Dichtyocha speculum Gyrodinium aureolum Nodularia spumigena Prymnesium parvum Effect PSP oxygen deficiency, dead bottom fauna oxygen deficiency, dead bottom fauna oxygen deficiency, dead bottom fauna oxygen deficiency, dead bottom fauna harm to flora and fauna DSP DSP DSP fish mortality fish mortality mortality of domestic animals fish mortality Place Skagerrak Laholm Bight Laholm Bight Laholm Bight Laholm Bight Skagerrak, Kattegat Skagerrak Skagerrak Skagerrak Kattegatt Kattegatt Baltic Sea Archipelago of Stockholm (Baltic Sea)

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Table 2.
Phytoplankton species which have developed major blooms in Swedish sea areas without any recorded effects, and species which have caused harm in other areas and which are encountered in Swedish sea areas (potentially harmful species). Species that regularly develop large populations, for instance in connection with the spring bloom, are not included (modified from Edler 1995).
Species Alexandrium ostenfeldii Amphora coffaeiformis Anabaena lemmermannii B Aphanizomenon "flos-aquae" or B "baltica" sometimes only"sp.". The species name is presently discussed Chrysochromulina polylepis Dinophysis acuminata Dinophysis norvegica Emiliana huxleyi Eutreptiella gymnastica Gymnodinium catenatum (prehistoric) Gymnodinium galteanum Heterocapsa triquetra (Figure 15) Heterosigma carterae Lingulodinium polyedra Mesodinium rubrum Microcystis aeruginosa Noctiluca scintillans Prorocentrum lima Prorocentrum minimum Pseudonitzschia pseudodelicatissima Pseudonitzschia pungens B B B B B B B B B B B B B Bloom forming (= B) Place Skagerrak, Kattegat Skagerrak, Kattegat, Baltic Sea Baltic Sea Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea Baltic Sea Baltic Sea Skagerrak Skagerrak, Kattegat, Baltic Sea Skagerrak, Kattegat Skagerrak, Kattegat Baltic Sea Skagerrak, Kattegat Skagerrak, Kattegat Skagerrak, Kattegat, Baltic Sea Baltic Sea, Archipelago of Stockholm Skagerrak, Kattegat Skagerrak, Kattegat, Baltic Sea Skagerrak, Kattegat, Baltic Sea Skagerrak, Kattegat Skagerrak, Kattegat

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Table 3.
Problematic species occurring in fresh water, in the Baltic Sea (those with * occur with certainty in the Baltic Sea), and/or the North Sea area. Toxin and/or type of trouble after the species name. Cyanobacteria (bluegreen algae) Anabaena flos-aquae, Neurotoxin, occurrence in fresh waters. Anabaena farciminiformis, occurrence in fresh waters, toxin producing. Anabaena lemmermanni*, occurrence in fresh water, brackish water, toxin producing in fresh waters. Aphanizomenon (many species of the genus) PSP*, occurrence in fresh waters, brackish waters. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae PSP, type of toxin saxitoxin, occurrence in fresh waters (Some scientists mean that the species name today is only valid in fresh waters. The form present in the Baltic Sea is by some scientists considered to differ from flos-aquae and therefore ought to have another species name, as a result it is therefore now often called baltica or just sp.). Not proven to be toxic in the Baltic Sea. Microcystis spp. LPS, microcystins*, occurrence in the Baltic Sea and in fresh waters. Microcystis aeruginosa, shown to be toxic in fresh waters. Microcystis viridis, shown to be toxic in fresh waters. Microcystis wesenbergii, shown to be toxic in fresh waters. Nodularia spumigena Nodularin*, occur in brackish waters, primarily in the Baltic Sea. Oscillatoria sancta, shown to be toxic in fresh waters. Planktothrix (earlier Oscillatoria) agardhii microcystin, skin irritation, allergy generating*, occurs in fresh waters and in brackish waters. Dinoflagellates Alexandrium excavatum PSP, toxin type saxitoxin in several species of the genus, occurs in the North Sea. Alexandrium minutum PSP Alexandrium ostenfeldii PSP, occurs in Skagerrak, Kattegat. Alexandrium pseudogoniaulax GON Alexandrium tamarense PSP, occurs in Skagerrak. Dinophysis acuminata DSP, occurs in Skagerrak. Dinophysis acuta DSP, occurs in Skagerrak. Dinophysis caudata DSP Dinophysis dens DSP Dinophysis norvegica DSP, occurs in Skagerrak. Dinophysis odiosa DSP Dinophysis ovatum DSP Dinophysis rotundata DSP Dinophysis ruudi DSP Dinophysis skagii DSP

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Gymnodinium slktet ICT, PSP, toxin type saxitoxin in certain species. Gymnodinium galatheanum ICT, PSP Gyrodinium aureolum ICT, Gyrodinium aureolum toxins, occurs in Skagerrak. Prorocentrum lima DSP Prorocentrum minimum VSP* Diatoms Chaetoceros spp., big species occurring in brackish and marine waters (may clog fish gills by causing mucus production, may lead to suffocation in fish). Pseudonitzschia pseudodelicatissima ASP Pseudonitzschia multiseries ASP Flagellates Chrysochromulina leadbeateri ICT Chrysochromulina polylepis ICT*, occurs in Skagerrak, Kattegat, Baltic Sea. Dichtyocha fibula (ICT) Dichtyocha speculum ICT, occurs in Kattegatt. cf. Heterosigma akashiwo ICT Prymnesium parvum ICT*, occurs in the Baltic Sea.

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CONTACT ADDRESSES
Address and telephone Information Office for the Baltic Proper County Administrative Board of Stockholm Environment and Planning Department Box 22067 S-104 22 STOCKHOLM Tel: swbd:+ 46-8-785 40 00 Tel: exp. + 46-8-785 52 94 Fax: + 46-8-651 57 50 e-mail: infobaltic@ab.lst.se Contact persons Information Office (working days 8.00 16.30) Tel: +46-8-785 51 18 Gunnar Aneer Tel:+ 46-8-785 52 21 Helena Hglander Tel:+ 46-8-785 40 39 Information on Information on algal blooms and the conditions of the Baltic Sea in general

Information Office for the Karin Pettersson, Swedish west coast Lnssty- Stellan Elmer relsen Vstra Gtaland S-403 40 GTEBORG Tel: exp. + 46-31-60 50 12 Fax: + 46-31-60 58 09 E-mail: infowest@o.lst.se Answering machine the "Blue mussel" Tel:+ 46-31-60 52 90

Information on algal blooms and the conditions in the Kattegat - Skagerrak area

Information on probable occurrence of algal toxins in mussels on the Swedish west coast Information on algal blooms and the conditions of the Gulf of Bothnia

Gunilla Forsgren Information Office for the Anneli Sedin Gulf of Bothnia County Administrative Board of Vsterbotten S-901 86 UME Tel: swbd. + 46-90-10 70 00 Answering machine: Tel: + 46-90-10 73 55 Fax: + 46-90-10 73 41 E-mail: icbv@ac.lst.se

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Species analysis of algae


If in Sweden: For samples taken in the Marine environment of the Baltic Sea chose the closest address below in the first place. Address and telephone Department of Systems Ecology, Marine Ecology Dep. Stockholm university 06 91 STOCKHOLM Tel: + 46-8-16 17 30; 16 42 61 Fax: + 46-8-15 84 17 Contact persons Susanna Hajdu Ulf Larsson and coworkers Information on Species analysis of Baltic Sea algae

Sveriges LantbruksuniverEva Willn sitet Institutionen fr miljanalys Box 7050 S-750 07 UPPSALA Tel: swbd.: +46-18-67 10 00 Fax: + 46-18- 67 31 56

Information on algal blooms Species analysis, fresh, brackish and marine waters

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REFERENCE LIST ON LITERATURE ON HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS


(An excerpt of literature that may be of interest, primarily Swedish references). Information on more literature can be found in the reference lists of the presented references. Annadotter, H. 1993. Algtoxiner i dricksvatten - en underskning vid tv svenska vattenverk samt en litteraturstudie. VA-FORSK rapport 1993-03. Annadotter, H. 1994. Toxinproduktion vid blomning av blgrna alger (cyanobakterier).Vatten 50. Annadotter, H. 1995. Toxiska blgrnalger (cyanobakterier) och dricksvattenrening. Vatten 51. Bluhm, G. & rnstedt, I. 2003. Avsaltningsanlggningar i Stockholms ln - En pilotstudie med speciell inriktning p mjliga hlsoeffekter av algtoxin. Rapport frn Arbets- och miljmedicin. 2003:5. Brusl, J. 1995. The impact of harmful algal blooms on finfish - mortality, pathology and toxicology. Repres Ocan, IFREMER, 10. Carmichael, W.W. 1986. Algal toxins. Advances in Botanical Research 12. Carmichael, W.W. 1988. Toxins of freshwater algae. I: Handbook of natural toxins. Vol. 3. Marine toxins and venoms. Ed. A.T. Tu. Marcel Dekker Inc., New York. Carmichael, W.W. 1994. The toxins of Cyanobacteria. Scientific American, Jan. 1994. Carmichael, W.W. & Falconer, I.R. 1993. Diseases related to freshwater blue-green algal toxins, and control measures. I: Falconer, I.R. (Ed.) Algal toxins in seafood and drinking water. Academic Press Ltd. London. Codd, G.A. och Poon, G.K. 1989. Cyanobacterial toxins. Ann. Proceed. Phytochem. Soc. Europe, 28. Dahl, E., Lindahl, O., Paasche, E. & Throndsen, J. 1989. The Chrysochromulina polylepis bloom in Scandinavian waters during spring 1988. I: Novel Phytoplankton Blooms. Eds. Cosper, E.M., Bricelj, V.M. & Carpenter, E.J. Springer Verlag. Edler, L. 1995. Skadliga marina alger och algblomningar. I: Skadliga alger i sjar och hav. Naturvrdsverket Rapport 4447. Edler, L., Fern, S., Lind, M.G., Lundberg, R. & Nilsson, P.O. 1985. Mortality of dogs associated with a bloom of the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena in the Baltic Sea.Ophelia 24, 2. Ericsson, P., Hajdu, S. & Willn, E. 1984. Vattenkvaliteten i Grvln, en dynamisk mlarfjrd. Vatten 40. Erlandsson, B. 1989. Dricksvattenkvalitet och hlsa. Naturvrdsverket RAPPORT 3641.

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Granli, E. 1987. Dinoflagellatblomningar, Frekomst, orsaker och konsekvenser i marin milj. En kunskapsversikt. SNV RAPPORT 3293. Granli, E., Carlsson, P., Olsson, P., Sundstrm, B., Granli, W. & Lindahl, O. 1989. From anoxia to fish poisoning: The last ten years of phytoplankton blooms in Swedish marine waters. I: Novel Phytoplankton Blooms. Eds. Cosper, E.M., Bricelj, V.M. & Carpenter, E.J. Springer Verlag. Holmquist, E. & Willn, T. 1993. Fiskdd orsakad av Prymnesium parvum. Vatten 49. Karhu, M., Horstmann, U. & Rud, O. 1994. Satellite detection of increased cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea: Natural fluctuations or ecosystem change?. AMBIO 23, No. 8. Kononen, K. 1992. Dynamics of the toxic cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea. Finnish Marine Research No. 261. (Havsforskningsinstitutet, PB 33, FIN-00931 Helsingfors 93, Finland) Lahti, K. & Hiisvirta, L. 1992. Toxic cyanobacteria - measures taken by the Finnish health authorities. I: Skulberg, O.M. & Skulberg, R. (Eds.) Toxinproducing algae. Reserach on advance (Proc. 3. Nordic Symp. on toxinproducing algae), NIVA, Oslo. Larsen, J. & Moestrup, . 1989. Guide til toksiske og potentiellt toksiske marine alger. (Fiskeriministeriets Industritilsyn, Fiskeriministeriet, Dronningens Tvrgade 21, P.O.Box 9050, DK-1022 Kbenhavn K, Danmark) ISBN 87-983238-0-6 Lindholm, T. 1991. Frn havsvik till insj. Natur och Milj/Miljfrlaget, bo, Finland. Lindholm, T. 1992. Algblomningar i skrgrdsvatten. I: Vad hnder med Skrgrdshavet?, Natur och Milj/Nordiska Ministerrdets skrgrdssamarbete, Helsingfors/Mariehamn, ISBN 952-9512-05-8 Lindholm, T. 1998. Algfenomen och algproblem. bo Akademi. ISBN 952-12-0237-8. Lindholm, T. & Eriksson, J.1985. Problemalger och fiskdd i lndska vattentkter. Ymprist ja Terveys 1. Mattsson, R. & Willn, T. 1985. Toxinbildande blgrna alger i svenska insjar. Naturvrdsverket RAPPORT 3096. Naturvrdsverket, RAPPORT 4447, 1995. Skadliga alger i sjar och hav. Premazzi, G. & Volterra, L. 1993. Microphyte toxins, European Communities Commission, Luxembourg. Skulberg, O.1988. Blgrnnalger - vannkvalitet. Toksiner. Lukt- og smakstoffer. Nitrogenbinding. Norsk institutt for vannforskning. Rapport 2116. Smayda, T.J. & Shimizu, Y. (Eds.) 1993. Toxic phytoplankton blooms in the sea. Elseviers frlag. Tidestrm & Rennerfelt, 1986. Giftiga alger i dricksvatten. Vr Fda 38, No. 1/86. Tikkanen, T. & Willn, T. 1992. Vxtplanktonflora. Naturvrdsverket. ISBN 91-620-1115-4

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Willn, E. 1994. Giftig alg brer ut sig i stersjn, Forskning och Framsteg, No 6/94. Willn, E. 1995. Skadliga alger. Nytt frn Institutionen fr Miljanalys, SLU, No. 2. Willn, E., Willn, T. & Ahlgren, G. 1995. Skadliga cyanobakterier och alger i svenska sjar. I: Naturvrdsverket Rapport 4447. Willn, T. 1989. Alger till besvr. Naturvetenskapliga forskningsrdets rsbok 88/89.

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Figures
Figure 1. An example of clumped occurrence of floating Nodularia spumigena at the sea surface. Photo: Ulf Larsson, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University.

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Figure 2. "Streaks" of floating Nodularia spumigena formed by wind and currents at sea. These streaks may become hundreds of metres in length. Photo: Ulf Larsson, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University.

Figure 3. An example of a dense surface accumulation of Nodularia spumigena in the open sea. Photo: Paavo Tulkki, Finnish Institute of Marine Research, Helsinki.

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Figure 4. A close-up of a "flocky" surface accumulation of Nodularia spumigena. Photo: Ulf Larsson, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University.

Figure 5. A bloom of the cyanobacterium genus Anabaena in a lake. Compare with figure 6. Note the differences in bloom characteristics. Photo: Petra hman, Hus Biological Station, land.

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Figure 6. A bloom of Anabaena in the same lake as in figure 5. Note the differences in bloom characteristics. Photo: Petra hman, Hus Biological Station, land.

Figure 7. A dense "bloom" of the cyanobacterium genus Anabaena in an area close to the shore of a lake. Note the variations in colours. Photo: Petra hman, Hus Biological Station, land.

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Figure 8. An example of an accumulation, a "bloom", close to the shore of the cyanobacteria species Nodularia spumigena and Aphanizomenon sp. The cyanobacteria are also mixed with clumps of rotting filamentous algae (the brownish clumps). Photo: Petra hman, Hus Biological Station, land.

Figure 9. A strong bloom by the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa in Lake Mlaren. Note the layer of cyanobacteria on the rocks on the shore. Photo: Kerstin Bohm, County Administrative Board of Stockholm.

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Figure 10. A dense accumulation close to a shore by the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa in Lake Mlaren. Note the variations in the colours, which depends on cyanobacteria of different ages. Photo: Kerstin Bohm, County Administrative Board of Stockholm.

Figure 11. Accumulations of the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa brought together by the wind in a cove with brackish water in the vicinity of Stockholm. Photo: Gunnar Aneer, County Administrative Board of Stockholm. Publication permit 10830:5884.

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Figure 12. Accumulations of the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa brought together by the wind and currents along shores in the brackish waters of Saltsjn in the vicinity of Stockholm. Note the difference in colour compared with figure 11. Photo: Gunnar Aneer, County Administrative Board of Stockholm, Publication permit 10830:5884.

Figure 13. A so called wind rose consisting of the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena. The cyanobacteria have been brought together by winds and currents. A wind rose may be more than 100 m wide. Photo: Bo Nyqvist, Stockholm University.

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Figure 14. A dense bloom of the dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans at a beach in the Limfjord, Denmark. Photo: Helene Munk Srensen, County Board of rhus, Denmark.

Figure 15. A strong, rust-coloured bloom of the dinoflagellate Heterocapsa triquetra in an archipelago area. The species is not toxic to humans and mammals, as far as we know. However, it may bring about oxygen deficiency in the water, which may cause death among fish and other water organisms. There are also other phytoplankton species that may cause similar reddish-brownish blooms, e.g. the ciliate Mesodinium rubrum. Photo: Thorsten Nilsson, Botkyrka Flying Club. Publication permit Milo/M 1998.07.31, 10830:11077.

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Figure 16. Dense accumulations of blue-green algae, presumably dominated by the species Nodularia spumigena, pictured at sea off southern Gothland July 10, 1999, by the Swedish Coast Guard Air Patrol. Note the ship in the upper part of the picture.

Figure 17. The image below shows an accumulation of blue-green algae at the public swimming place at Rangsta in the Himmerfjrden, Municipality of Nynshamn (August 15, 2001). The accumulation is dominated by Nodularia spumigena. Photo: Magnus Dybeck.

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Figure 18. This picture shows an accumulation of blue-green algae in closeup. The photo was taken at the same place as the previous picture, August 15, 2001. Photo: Magnus Dybeck.

Figure 19. One more close-up of an accumulation of blue-green algae at the swimming place Rangsta, August 15, 2001. To the right in the photo one may see the rather typical colour of a Nodularia accumulation. Single filaments of blue-green algae are seen as whitish filaments or "fluff" all over the photo. Photo: Magnus Dybeck.

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Figure 20. A close-up of a small-scale autumn bloom of blue-green algae (below). The species is probably Aphanizomenon sp. The photo was taken at the Erstavik swimming place, Municipality of Nacka, on December 2, 2003. Photo: Alice Ahoniemi.

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Figure 21. White filaments of the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena, giving the water a rhubarb-soup appearance (The filaments are about one centimetre long). Photo: Helena Hglander, Information Office for the Baltic Proper, County Administrative Board of Stockholm.

Figure 22. Later in the bloom, the Nodularia spumigena filaments aggregate into tufts (a couple of centimetres long). The tufts make the water look like rhubarb or pea soup if the concentration of algae is very high. Photo: Helena Hglander, Information Office for the Baltic Proper, County Administrative Board of Stockholm.

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Figure 23. Some surface accumulations of Nodularia spumigena looks like pollen aggregations on the surface. Photo: Helena Hglander, Information Office for the Baltic Proper, County Administrative Board of Stockholm.

Figure 24. Nodularia spumigena can cause thick surface accumulations that cover large areas. These accumulations mainly appear at calm weather. Photo: Helena Hglander, Information Office for the Baltic Proper, County Administrative Board of Stockholm.

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Figure 25. A thick mixture of filaments from the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena. The grey-white dots are bacteria that are decomposing the Nodularia-filaments. These accumulations, which are most common close to shores and bays, usually have strong a smell of putrefaction. Photo: Helena Hglander, Information Office for the Baltic Proper, County Administrative Board of Stockholm.

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Figures showing an algal bloom in Lake Mlaren in midAugust 2001: (fresh water occurrences of cyanobacteria (blue-green
algae). Figure 26. The image shows small lumps of blue-green algae (the yellowgreen dots) floating on the surface. The lumps are up to one centimetre in diameter. The image was taken in the morning of August 16, 2001 at Tegelbacken, Stockholm. Photo: Gunnar Aneer.

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Figure 27. Accumulations of blue-green algae at Tegelbacken in Stockholm. The greenish accumulations at the lower end of the picture, is here a bit thicker than the previous image. The aggregations are larger and about one decimetre in diameter. Photo: Gunnar Aneer

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Figure 28. Accumulations of blue-green algae at Tegelbacken, Stockholm. These accumulations are as large as a couple of dm2. Compare with the water lily leaf in the upper right corner of the image. Photo: Gunnar Aneer.

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