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Health Ministry to Bathers: Stay Away From Lake Sevan Algae Blooms

Armenia’s Ministry of Health is advising bathers to stay away from possibly toxic blue-green algae blooms (Cyanobacteria) that have appeared in spots along Lake Sevan’s shorelines.

Those swimming in such areas may experience asthma, eye irritability, outbreak of freckles around mouth and nose, and a skin itch.

Cyanobacteria are aquatic and photosynthetic, that is, they live in the water, and can manufacture their own food. Because they are bacteria, they are quite small and usually unicellular, though they often grow in colonies large enough to see. They have the distinction of being the oldest known fossils, more than 3.5 billion years old, in fact! It may surprise you then to know that the cyanobacteria are still around; they are one of the largest and most important groups of bacteria on earth.

Aquatic cyanobacteria are known for their extensive and highly visible blooms that can form in both freshwater and marine environments. The blooms can have the appearance of blue-green paint or scum. These blooms can be toxic, and frequently lead to the closure of recreational waters when spotted. 

Cyanobacteria growth is favored in ponds and lakes where waters are calm and have less turbulent mixing.