Irritant algae bloom leads to beach warning

  • 2002-07-18
  • Sara Toth

Health officials this week have advised against swimming at Tallinn's Kakumae beach after they found floating algae that could cause skin irritation.

The Cyanophyceae alga, seen floating in yellow and brown sheets July 16 at Kakumae, ocurrs naturally, said Natalya Shubina, chief specialist at the water lab of the health inspectorate. But the algae was present in abnormally high concentrations because of higher air and water temperatures, she said.

The algae can cause allergic reactions, such as red spots on the skin, Shubina said.

Lifeguards placed a red flag on the beach, warning people of the risk of swimming. But the beach was not officially closed, said Indrek Lindsalu, a spokesman for Falck Eeesi, which provides lifeguards for the beach near many summer cottages.

"We can't force anybody to stay out of the water," Lindsalu said. "But the flag tells them the risk is there."

If people do swim at Kakumae, they should shower after getting out of the water, Shubina said.

Also on July 16 the beach at Stroomi reopened after being closed July 14 because of oil pollution.

A crew of 20 people cleaned up the oil at Stroomi, Shubina said.

The oil probably came from a ship, said Tiia Kaar, head of the Estonian Department of Environ-mental Inspection. But it could also have washed in from the sea, she said. Her department is investigating ships that were in the water July 14 and awaiting further water tests, she said.

The results of more water tests at Kakumae and Stroomi will be available later this week, Shubina said.