Dead Fish And Toxic Algae Warnings


When it is 26 degrees and in the midst of the holiday season at the end of July, the day is sunny, a gentle breeze is blowing and there are no mosquitoes, the beaches at Pigeon Lake are typically ‘try and find a spot’, swamped with sun worshippers. It seems however, the dead fish and blue-green algae floating onto the shores have out-weighed the other amenities the lake has to offer.
“I have been coming here since I was a kid’, reported one mother and aunt of three children playing in the water, “and every year at this time there is algae. We wipe our hands with sanitizer, wash our bodies and in the meantime we are enjoying the day.” 
A group of several 15- 17 year olds had just ventured out of the water following a ride on a sail less catamaran and were enjoying the lake. “We went away out on the boat and into the water and it was fine. Just had to watch for the dead fish”. 
But the rest of the beach was pretty much empty.  
Alberta Health Services issued an advisory on July 27th, 2012 that, “blue-green algae are present in the waters of Pigeon Lake. Residents living near the shores of Pigeon Lake, as well as visitors to Pigeon Lake, are advised to take the following precautions:
• DO NOT DRINK WATER from or allow your pets to drink water from this lake. Boiling contaminated water does not remove toxins from the water. Provide an alternative source of drinking water for pets and livestock. 
• DO NOT SWIM OR WADE or allow your pets to swim or wade in this lake. 
• PEOPLE MAY wish to limit their consumption of fish. 
• AVOID CONTACT with blue-green algae along the shoreline. 
Blue-green algae produce a toxin (poison) that can cause serious illness to animals or humans who drink or have skin contact with water containing this toxin. Although weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the lake to another, the toxin can stay in the water even after algae have moved or disappeared.
People who come in contact with or ingest water containing toxic blue-green algae may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days. Symptoms in children are often more pronounced because they spend more time in the water and are more likely to accidentally ingest contaminated water.
People who consume contaminated water as a primary source for drinking water can develop more serious illnesses, such as liver damage, over time.
The advisory from Alberta Health Services will remain in effect until further notice.  If you suspect a problem related to blue-green algae, or if you require further information on blue-green algae, please call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).
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