Potentially toxic algae bloom reported in Elk/Beaver Lake park

Visitors to Elk and Beaver lakes are warned to beware of a seasonal slime that can be poisonous.

Blue-green algae blooms have been detected at the Brookleigh boat launch in Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park, according to the Capital Regional District.

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Visitors should avoid areas near the blue-green sheen, which appears in pockets as surface scum. Pet owners are advised to keep animals on a leash and prevent them from drinking or swimming in either lake.

The algae, also known as pond scum or cyanobacteria, form in shallow, warm, slow-moving or still water, according to Health Canada.

Blue-green algae produce a variety of toxins that may attack the liver and nervous system or simply irritate the skin. However, scientists estimate that between 30 to 50 per cent of blooms are harmless.

The warning is in effect until Jan. 2, but may be extended if the algae is still present, said CRD spokeswoman Danielle Desharnais.

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