Health department strongly denies any beach closures due to microalgae 

A suspected microalgae bloom spotted near Arguineguín beach, image courtesy of Erwin Tak

The General Directorate of Public Health have denied suggestions in the foreign press that any beaches in the Canary Islands have been closed due to the presence of microalgae, stating that its presence is an environmental phenomenon that is not related to any type of pollution.

In a statement, the Canary Islands’ Government Ministry of Health indicated that, following the appearance of articles in various national and international news media about the supposed closure of beaches because of toxic microalgae, that they saw it as necessary to deny “sharply” any such suggestion.

Not one beach has been closed in the Canary Islands due to the presence of microalgae and on the occasions that microalgae has been detected in a bathing area, bathers have simply been recommended to avoid contact with the blooms, which in no case has meant the closure of a beach, explained the general director of Public Health, José Juan Alemán.

Back in mid-July “Anomalous spots” of mircoalgae were being reported off the southern coast of Gran Canaria, though there have been no reports of any injuries or incidents with bathers to our knowledge.

Image: Ayuntamiento de Mogán

Since mid-July, the General Directorate of Public Health has warned the population of the islands about sightings of massive proliferations of microalgae, which have occasionally reached bathing areas, and so it has been recommended in such cases that swimmers avoid contact with this naturally occurring phenomenon.

The Ministry of Health pointed out that this phenomenon is not exclusive to the coast of the Canary Islands, but has also been detected in other coastal communities, in different regions.

These blooms are natural and variable making them somewhat unpredictable and occur as a result of various biological, environmental and climatological factors, with sporadic proliferations that manifest affect the coloration of the waters where they appear.

Most microalgae are harmless, but some can be irritating to the skin and therefore, and as a general measure to protect health, the Directorate General of Public Health recommends avoiding direct contact with these discoloured areas.

According to data from the islands’ health surveillance and control program for bathing water quality of the General Directorate of Public Health, all the beaches in the Canary Islands are of excellent quality, with no trace of anthropogenic pollution.