An unwelcome slimy visitor has returned to Elk and Beaver lakes, and dog and horse owners are being warned to keep their animals out of the water.
Blue-green algae has been found lurking in pockets of water around Eagle Beach boat launch, close to the rowing area and, although it has not yet been confirmed whether the bloom is the toxic variety that appeared in February last year, Capital Regional District parks staff are erring on the side of caution.
“We haven’t done any formal testing, but it looks the same as last year, so we’re going ahead and advising people to keep their dogs out of the water,” said Larisa Hutcheson, CRD Parks acting general manager.
Last February, the brightly-coloured algae that clogged corners of Elk Lake was found to be toxic and a potential pet killer.
Not all varieties of blue-green algae are toxic, but some produce neurotoxins, which can kill animals rapidly, or hepato-toxins, which can affect the liver.
If it is the toxic variety, people should also stay away from the water as it can cause symptoms ranging from skin rashes to stomach cramps and fever, according to the B.C. Environment Ministry website.
Algae blooms are seasonal and usually appear as days start getting longer and there are nutrients in the water.
“It is not a surprise for us to see it. It is just something that happens and then it disappears,” Hutcheson said.
Blooms usually disappear within a couple of weeks, she said.
“So keep your dogs under control and preferably on a leash so they are not tempted to go into the water,” she said.
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