Public health announcements

20th August 2020


Due to ongoing COVID restrictions, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have not been able to carry out any regular water testing of Lochs in Shetland suspected of containing Blue Green Algae.

The public are therefore reminded that Blue Green Algae can be present in lochs and other water bodies in Shetland, especially now in warmer weather. Please therefore exercise caution should you see signs of algal blooms in any of the lochs. Lochs currently affected are detailed below.

Dogs and livestock should be kept away from these lochs to prevent any potential health effects. The public are advised not to bathe in any affected waters and fishermen should also exercise caution.

Members of the public are requested to make reports of sightings by contacting the local Environmental Health Team on 01595 745250, by Emailing us at: or via our Facebook page. We will then add to the list of affected lochs and take any practical action that may be appropriate.

Location of Blue-Green Algal Blooms

Lochs Affected

Grid Reference

Clickimin Loch

HU 465 410

Kirkhouse Water, nr Bixter

HU 312 536

Loch of Brindister

HU 432 369

Muckla Water, Eshaness

HU 226 786

Loch of Cliff, Unst

HP 607 136
Loch of Huxter, Whalsay

HU 557 621

Loch of Papil, Burra

HU 368 313

Loch of Gards, Scatness

HU 387 096


An additional method to assist residents in reporting any sightings of Blue-green algae is also available through the use of an App developed by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, . Further information on what Blue-green algal blooms actually look like can also be found on this site.

Further Information

  • Blue-green Algae exist in fresh waters in Great Britain and throughout the world; they are noticed when their concentrations increase to form "blooms" and when they form scums - looking like blue-green paint - or when they collect on the shore line.
  • Being in direct contact with Blue-green Algae may give rise to adverse medical effects including skin rashes, eye irritations, vomiting and diarrhoea, fever and pains in muscles and joints. Toxic algae has in the past caused deaths in livestock and dogs.
  • The treatment of water supplies removes Blue-green Algae and additional treatment may be applied to destroy or remove toxins should they arise. The actions currently taken are precautionary.
  • The behaviour of Blue-green algae is very erratic. The level of its toxicity can fluctuate; it can appear one day, be dispersed by the wind but then re-accumulate and grow quickly again at any time.