Evil weed in Baltic Sea puts marine life at risk
Friday 23 July 2010
Record summer temperatures, farm fertilisers and a lack of wind have created a gigantic carpet of evil-smelling weed covering large areas of the Baltic and threatening both marine life and seaside tourism, scientists warn.
The 377,000 sq km of blue-green algae, covering an area the size of Germany, has been identified by satellite cameras. It extends from Finland along the south coast of Sweden and surrounds the Danish island of Bornholm.
Scientists from the German section of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Hamburg have warned of the damaging effects of the weed. "These huge algae carpets hit the marine environment most," said Jochen Lamp, a WWF project spokesman. "They kill plants and encourage the spread of dead zones on the sea bed which have no oxygen left in them."
Blue-green algae, which often smell of rotten eggs, can also harm humans as they contain cynanobacteria, which can produce skin rashes and other allergic reactions as well as poisons that damage the liver. Doctors warn that drinking water contaminated with the algae can cause severe diarrhoea.
The current algae explosion in the Baltic is the largest since 2005 and has been encouraged by daytime temperatures of up to 38C, light winds and an absence of waves, which normally help to break up weed carpet.
Scientists say one of the main causes of blue-green algae is over-fertilisation of farmland, leading to large quantities of phosphorous and nitrogen being washed off the land and into the Baltic from rivers. They say that under the right climatic conditions a weed explosion is inevitable. "Over-fertilisation is the biggest environmental problem facing the Baltic; it is the driving force behind the spread of dead zones on the sea bed," Mr Lamp said.
The WWF has criticised countries with a Baltic coastline for agreeing on ambitious targets for reducing over-fertilisation while also encouraging farmers to use more fertilisers.
In Germany, where several Baltic beaches were closed in 2001 because of algae, coastguards have already warned bathers not to going swimming if the sea water is contaminated.
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around
Energy Department misled consumers over Green Deal savings, ad watchdog rules
Plastic rubbish heaps at sea pose bigger threat to Earth than climate change, claims ocean expert
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
- 1 Gun instructor accidentally shot dead by nine-year-old girl with Uzi gun
- 2 Miley Cyrus' homeless MTV VMAs date, Jesse Helt, is wanted by the police
- 3 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 4 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 5 Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...
£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...