Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Polar Bear Swim Moved to Thetis Lake!

If you're planning to indulge in the chilly New Year's Day ritual tomorrow of the Annual Polar Bear Swim, be warned. Though it's not as cold this year as it has been in the past, Elk and Beaver Lake has a toxic blue-green algae bloom. The cyanobacteria can give swimmers skin rashes and irritated eyes, while swallowing water with this algae can cause symptoms like the 'flu. There's plenty you can find on-line about algae blooms, like this page from the Alberta government. Understandably, this year the Polar Bear Swim will take place at Thetis Lake instead on January 1. It's been written about in the local newspaper.

This photo appeared on the website Victoria Pet Adoption Society
For anyone thinking that winter weather = a little privacy on the busy lake that is called Elk Lake on its northern parts and Beaver Lake on its southern parts, well, not this winter. The algae bloom won't harm boats or kayaks, but it can still get on a paddler's feet and hands when launching.

Until a couple of windstorms have stirred the lake and broken up the algae bloom, it's best to keep off this lake. And keep dogs out of the water! It's best to learn how to live around algae blooms, because there might be more algae blooms than expected in the future due to global warming.
And a Happy New Year to all...

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