Campbeltown or the Maldives?

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The tropical hue of the waters in Campbeltown Loch and off Kintyre’s east coast has been the topic of much discussion this week.

The turquoise sea looks more like the Mediterranean than the North Atlantic thanks to a bumper bloom of plankton.

Reported to be an ehux or karenia variant, the mostly-harmless algae bloom is believed to be responsible for the change in sea colour, however, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact culprit.

The Kilbrannan Sound between Carradale and Arran's west coast looks more like Malta's Blue Lagoon.
The Kilbrannan Sound between Carradale and Arran’s west coast looks more like Malta’s Blue Lagoon.

It follows reports of a massive blue-green algae bloom that was recently witnessed on satellite imagery spreading across the Minch in north-west Scotland. This is still being monitored by Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

That particular bloom of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, prompted health officials to issue a warning for members of the public to avoid any contact with any algal scum and to keep their pets away from it as a precautionary measure.

Thankfully, according to HAB Reports, an organisation that provides reports on harmful algal blooms and biotoxin monitoring, the most up-to-date samples taken in Campbeltown Loch have returned acceptable levels of safe algae with no reports of karenia.

The large blue-green algae bloom which developed in the Minch and is being monitored by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. Photograph: SEPA.

Algae is naturally-occurring and the change of sea colour is most likely due to billions of tiny phytoplankton growing in the abundant sunshine.

The behaviour of algae is erratic and the level of its toxicity can fluctuate, it can also appear one day, and disappear the next, it can be dispersed by the wind or even re-accumulate at any time.