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Spot microalgae in the sea? New advice from public health 

Public health officers in the Canaries have issued new advice to residents, tourists and local councils if their beaches become affected by the phenomenon of microalgae.

Tourist resorts in various parts of Spain have had to deal with the problem which often turns the sea orange or green and is being blamed on the changing climate.

The Canary Government has sent out new informations to town halls and advises the use of the yellow flag ie take care as opposed to the red flag which prohibits bathing.

The health department says: “Microalgae are innocuous but some species – although not all strains of the same species – can produce toxins with different health effects, either through dermal contact, water intake or inhalation.”

Officials monitor each case and examine the microalgae which can be seen with the naked eye and take the form of abnormal water colour, lumps or spots on top of the water and a possible nasty smell.

The General Directorate of Public Health recommends that people abstain from going into the water, avoid contact with the material, don’t sit downwind in case you inhale the smell and use protective garments if practising water sports in the affected areas.

In the event of coming into contact with a ‘microalgae’ bloom, shower or rinse abundantly to remove any residue on the skin and wash and dry clothing or material that has come into contact.

” If you notice any effect on health after exposure to a bloom, see a doctor,” said a spokesman.

“Given that the arrival of this type of massive blooms of microalgae is not predictable, it is recommended that the organisers of recreational or sports activities on the beaches foresee alternative solutions in their programming,” he continued.

“It is recommended that the municipalities, in the event that the presence of these massive blooms in the bathing areas are detected, install signs or warning signs to the users that include the list of tips. In addition, it is important that both the rescue and first aid personnel, as well as the local beach service police, have this information and can transfer it to bathers to obtain their collaboration, avoiding bathing in the affected part of the beach.”