Cool summer means less Baltic algae

Fears that poisonous blue-green algae would this summer once again turn the Baltic Sea into a stinking soup have not been borne out, thanks to the cool start to the Nordic summer.

Cool summer means less Baltic algae

Experts had warned last winter that this year’s algal blooms could reach record levels, after record-low levels of oxygen were measured in the water. But the algae has so far not been as widespread as first feared. At this time last year, algae was blooming much more fiercely.

According to the latest report from the Information Office for the Baltic Proper, no major algae outbreaks have been discovered, with only local outbreaks in parts of the Stockholm Archipelago and the Gulf of Finland.

“This is primarily due to two things. First, the temperatures have not been as high as usual in the summers; second, there has been a good deal of wind,” said Lasse Gustavsson, secretary general of the Swedish branch of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, WWF.

Still, relatively large amounts of algae have been observed in the area south of the Åland Sea down to the southern Baltic. Most of the algae is not of the poisonous Nodularia spumigena variety, but scientists say that it should be treated as dangerous, as non-poisonous and poisonous variants are hard to tell apart.

The problem could still get worse if the weather stabilizes and becomes warmer, Gustavsson said.

Gustavsson said he was not worried that the lack of visible blue-green algae would lead to reduced public awareness of the issue.

“Even though it is easier for us to get results for our proposals for solutions when the symptoms are obvious, I still think that there has been a lot of discussion of algae this year,” he said. Gustavsson added that the over-fertilization of the Baltic Sea and its consequences have taken root in the consciences of politicians and the public.

The Baltic Sea nations are due to launch an action plan later in the autumn. The intention is to give a good environment for the Baltic Sea by 2021.