• Germany's news in English

Heatwave fuels massive algae bloom in Baltic Sea

DPA/The Local · 22 Jul 2010, 11:50

Published: 22 Jul 2010 11:50 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The prolonged heat and lack of wind or storms has given the cyanobacteria the chance to form the largest carpet since 2005, covering about 377,000 square kilometres of the sea’s surface – roughly Germany’s entire land area.

The Office for Environment, Nature and Geology in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania dispatched an observation ship on Thursday to take water measurements. The results were expected to be released Friday.

But early indications were that the algae consisted of the types Anabaena and Nodularia.

“The types are potentially toxic and can cause skin inflammtion,” said Karin Stein, head of the environmental analysis departments.

Swallowing large quantities of water carrying the algae could cause gastro-intestinal problems, she added.

“Really the animals mostly endangered by it are those that drink the polluted water,” she said.

Nevertheless, authorities said it is safer not to swim in areas where the algae is visible.

Swimmers on the beaches of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania need not be too worried for the moment, though.

“The beaches in eastern parts of Rügen, Usedom, Stralsund and Greifswald are free from blue-green algae according to current measurements,” said Anja Neutzling, spokeswoman for health authorities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Nonetheless, warning signs were put up at four swimming spots at the lagoon on the island Usedom on the weekend.

Jochen Lamp, head of the Baltic Sea office for the World Wide Fund for Nature, said about 90 percent of the semi-enclosed sea was affected by the algae film.

The carpet stretches from Finland down to the Curonian spit on the coast of Lithuania, over to the Bay of Pomerania on the coasts of Germany and Poland and across to Rügen, the German island off the coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, Lamp said.

While such blooms are natural phenomena, this year’s has spread to great dimensions because of the long period of high temperatures and little wind, coupled with unusually high concentrations of mineral nutrients.

Microbiologist Klaus Jürgens, from the Institute for Baltic Sea Resarch in Rostock, said blue-green algae carpets have spread over the Baltic Sea every summer for decades.

Story continues below…

This is largely a man-made problem: the blooms result from the high concentrations of phosphates, most of which come from agriculture, Jürgens said.

He said the northern and central parts of the sea were most affected – areas off the coasts of Finland, Sweden, Russian and parts of the Baltic states.

“The satellite pictures are being analysed at the moment,” he said.

Jürgens said that a good-sized storm would quickly break up the bloom, though.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:05 July 22, 2010 by marimay
om nom nom
Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd