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Britain’s waterways turn GREEN as seaweed – some toxic – invades rivers, lakes and canals


Britain’s waterways are turning GREEN as seaweed – some toxic – invades rivers, lakes and canals across the country as they swelter in the extreme heat

  • Images from across the country, including Manchester and London, show a number of algae blooms
  • They thrive in summer due to an abundance of nutrients, increased sunlight and temperatures
  • Blue algae can be toxic and produce harmful toxins to humans and animals

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Britain’s waterways are turning green as algae begins to invade rivers, lakes and canals across the country during the extreme heat wave.

Images from Britain’s biggest cities, including Manchester and London, show algae blooms growing across canals, rivers and lakes.

Barges and riverboats in Greater London have been captured plowing through pea-green soupy seaweed that blankets the city’s canals.

An image shows a horse drinking from a Hampshire lake while a swan in Bedford was seen trudging through the thick green mush.

Algal blooms typically thrive in the summer months and occur due to higher temperatures, an abundance of sunlight, and more nutrients.

Green photosynthetic organisms make the water less clear and can appear almost like thick green paint, small discolored clumps, or brown goo.

Some, like blue-green algae, can be toxic and produce toxins that can make humans and animals very sick.

If they cover the entire surface of the water, they can block much-needed sunlight for plants at the bottom of UK waterways.

Algae can suck up the oxygen level in the water and smother wildlife like fish and other creatures.

Algal blooms almost completely choke parts of the Jubilee River in Hampshire on August 11

Algal blooms in Slough, Berkshire, choke parts of the Jubilee River as temperatures continue to rise across the country

Algal blooms in Slough, Berkshire, choke parts of the Jubilee River as temperatures continue to rise across the country

Pea soup algae has started to coat London's canals, particularly in the Regents Canal (pictured above), which appears to have been coated in a thick layer of green paint

Pea soup algae has started to coat London’s canals, particularly in the Regents Canal (pictured above), which appears to have been coated in a thick layer of green paint

A council sign near a lake in Priory Country Park, Bedford warns people and animals to stay out of the water because of blue-green algae - saying children are more at risk than adults and that animals animals must be kept out of the water “until further notice”

A council sign near a lake in Priory Country Park, Bedford warns people and animals to stay out of the water because of blue-green algae – saying children are more at risk than adults and that animals animals must be kept out of the water “until further notice”

A close up of blue-green algae at Priory Country Park in Bedford

A close up of blue-green algae at Priory Country Park in Bedford

Sale's water park on the outskirts of Manchester is dotted with a brownish form of the photosynthetic organism

Sale’s water park on the outskirts of Manchester is dotted with a brownish form of the photosynthetic organism

Seaweed floating in the water at Middlewood Locks, Salford, blocking natural sunlight for plants or other organisms on the bottom

Seaweed floating in the water at Middlewood Locks, Salford, blocking natural sunlight for plants or other organisms on the bottom

Blue-green algae, a toxic type that can be harmful to humans and other animals, blanketed a popular country park in Bedford on Thursday

Blue-green algae, a toxic type that can be harmful to humans and other animals, blanketed a popular country park in Bedford on Thursday

Blue-green algae have a competitive advantage over other forms at temperatures of 25°C or higher

Blue-green algae have a competitive advantage over other forms at temperatures of 25°C or higher

While the dry sunny weather continues, there is still no rain forecast for the foreseeable future and the bright, warm conditions encourage algae and weed growth.  Pictured: Seaweed and weeds form on the Jubilee River in Slough at the start

While the dry sunny weather continues, there is still no rain forecast for the foreseeable future and the bright, warm conditions encourage algae and weed growth. Pictured: Seaweed and weeds form on the Jubilee River in Slough at the start

A pony foal drinks and cools off in Janesmoore Pond in the South East as temperatures soar and top 30C

A pony foal drinks and cools off in Janesmoore Pond in the South East as temperatures soar and top 30C

A swan swims and plods through thick green chunks in Diana's Fountain Pond in Bush Park, London

A swan swims and plods through thick green chunks in Diana’s Fountain Pond in Bush Park, London

Due to the extremely hot weather, Pea Soup seaweed has started covering London's canals, where specialist boats are currently used daily to remove seaweed.

Due to the extremely hot weather, Pea Soup seaweed has started covering London’s canals, where specialist boats are currently used daily to remove seaweed.

A narrowboat sails down a London canal in extreme weather conditions, its tracks are the only parts of the water not covered in seaweed

A narrowboat sails down a London canal in extreme weather conditions, its tracks are the only parts of the water not covered in seaweed

Another kind of pea soup!  A group of people on a small boat cross a lime green Regents Canal

Another kind of pea soup! A group of people on a small boat cross a lime green Regents Canal

Algae in bloom

Photosynthetic organisms are at the base of all food chains.

Algae is naturally present in rivers, ponds and canals, but the right conditions can trigger an algae bloom. When this happens, the water appears less clear and may appear green, blue-green, or light brown. They come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from thick brown mush to layers of green paint.

Four key factors are usually in play to start one, which include more good nutrients, warmer weather, atmospheric stability, and plenty of light.

Algae feed on nutrients such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus. High concentrations of these foods can trigger a major algae outbreak in rivers, ponds and canals.

Another contributing factor that affects production is sunlight. Green plants like algae need sunlight for photosynthesis, where green plants convert light energy into chemical energy.

With enough sunlight, the number of green plants can explode in number. Blue-green algae, like cyanobacteria, prefer stable conditions and need them to proliferate. They also prefer warmer weather, according to British Columbia, and are more likely to thrive in temperatures above 25°C.

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