Blue Green Algae - 09/10/2023
Published 13:34 on 9 Oct 2023
Blue Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) is present within the lake. Many of you will have heard of this bacterium either through your own experiences in watersports, or press stories about it appearing. The aim of this email is to provide information to you, our members, about the actions Spinnaker Sailing Club has taken today following the sighting of Blue Green Algae, what we will be doing over the next few days as we monitor the presence of the bacterium and some advice to you.
There are many forms of Blue Green Algae, some are highly toxic. At this time we do not know if the variety we have in the lake is toxic, but we are operating under the assumption it is as we risk assess our activities and operations. Swallowing and/or inhalation can result in mouth and nose ulcers, blistering of the lips, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscular pains, sore throat, dry cough, headaches, hay fever symptoms, dizziness and fatigue. Contact with the ears and eyes can result in irritation and exposure of the skin can lead to allergic or irritated reactions such as skin rashes, lesions and blisters. Bathing suits and wetsuits can aggravate these effects as the cells can accumulate next to the skin and be broken down through agitation, thus releasing the toxins. Severe cases could include seizures, liver failure, respiratory arrest and even death, although there are no confirmed cases of human deaths from blue-green algae toxins. The severity of the illness is related to the amount of water ingested and the concentrations of the toxins.
As well as the risks to human health dogs are particularly susceptible to the effects of Blue Green Algae, and as such we recommend dogs are not brought onto the grounds of Spinnaker Sailing Club at this time.
Actions Spinnaker Sailing Club Has Taken Today (09/10/23):
- All instructor delivered paddlesport sessions until Sunday 15th October have been cancelled.
- All instructor led dinghy sailing sessions up to and including those on Sunday 15th October are being individually risk assessed, and mitigation measures put in place or cancelled if the risk is deemed unacceptable - those of you with booked sessions will be contacted directly to discuss what is happening
- Warning signs have been placed at the entrances to the club grounds and clubhouse
- We are liaising with our external organisations including the Environment Agency, Wessex Water and Christchurch Angling Club
Recreational Use of the Lake:
At this time Spinnaker Sailing Club is not closing the lake to members who wish to recreationally sail, kayak or paddleboard. All members (or their parent/guardian) must make a decision as to whether the risk posed to them by afloat activity is acceptable to them, and that they are willing to take that risk in using the lake. This should be an individual decision, considering the risk factors of an individual, including age, other medical conditions, the activity you participate in, the likelihood of coming into contact with the bloom, as well as other factors.
Should you decide to go afloat we advise the following actions to minimise the risk to yourself:
- Launch where there is the least presence of bloom/scum
- Thoroughly wash yourself and equipment after activity using the showers, including hands before eating/drinking
- Do not deliberately capsize or enter the water
What We Are Doing In The Next Few Days:
Over the next few days Spinnaker Sailing Club will be monitoring the bloom and assessing the ongoing risk. At this time Club Racing on Sunday 15th October is under review, as are all planned activities from Monday 16th October.
This is an evolving situation, and our advice, guidance and direction could change at short notice. Therefore please ensure you stay up to date with the situation by reading all club emails, website, and monitoring our social media channels. Signage will be updated at the Club whenever something changes.
Our advice at this time is if you are unsure of what to do/if it is safe to go afloat is do not. The Club's staff will provide updates and information to anyone who asks, but they will not provide an assessment or advice as to whether it is safe for you or your family/friends to go afloat.
We hope that shortly we will be able to give positive news that there are no restrictions or other considerations around activity at the lake.
Last updated 13:34 on 9 October 2023