(Blue-green algae/Photo by James Younger)

The Capital Regional District (CRD) and Island Health have put out an advisory that several popular lakes have been impacted by a blue-green algae bloom which can be harmful to both humans and their animals. 

According to the two authorities, Killarney Lake and Durrance Lake, which are located near Mount Work Regional Park as well as Eagle Beach and Hamsterly Beach, which are part of Elk Lake Regional Park have all been confirmed to contain dangerous levels of blue-green algae. 

(Google Maps)

The dangerous byproducts which can be harmful to humans and their pets are cyanotoxins. These toxins can affect those who’s skin or fur comes in contact with the algae and it can be even more harmful if ingested. 

In humans, symptoms of having ingested the blue-green algae can include headaches and abdominal pain in humans; however, the toxins the algae produce can lead to liver damage in dogs which can be fatal. 

A visible blue-green sheen of scum can be seen on the surface of the water, but the algae is not always visible to the naked eye, especially depending on lighting. 

There are temporary signs at the affected areas which are meant to deter people and their animals from getting near the water and the CRD say they will remove these signs once the water is deemed safe by Island Health, who test the water frequently.

The CRD recommends not swimming in the affected areas until the advisory has been lifted and to keep pets on their leashes when nearby those areas to avoid them swimming or drinking the lakes’ water.