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What is algae?

Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are a common seasonal occurrence in Victoria and a natural component of most aquatic systems, including streams, lakes, estuaries and the sea.

Individual cells are very small and are normally not visible in a water body, but numbers can increase rapidly and blooms, or scums, become easily visible across the water surface.

Blooms can be triggered by nutrient levels, low inflows, lower storage volumes and warmer weather conditions. Blooms can be unsightly, ranging in colour from dark green to yellowish-brown. They develop a paint-like consistency as they dry out and often have a pungent smell.

Health risks

Large numbers of blue-green algae in water bodies can produce toxins that can affect the health of humans, animals, birds and livestock as well as harm the environment.

In Victoria, blue-green algae is monitored regularly by water corporations and local waterway managers through sampling and testing.

An algae outbreak is managed based on the use of the water body and the density and nature of the bloom.

Resources and circulars

For the latest information on blue-green algae events, you should contact the manager responsible for the water body, such as the local council, water corporation or the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.

Further information can be found on the following websites:

Continued algae monitoring in the Gippsland Lakes

Monitoring and analysis of samples is being conducted on a regular basis to determine the type, amount and extent of algae present. If this species of algae is found at more sites, or other algae of concern, the public will be informed and signs will be put up to warn people not to come into contact with the water.

The Gippsland Lakes contain many different types of algae at varying levels as part of the natural environment and balance of the Lakes system.

Weather conditions, nutrient levels, salinity and water flows all affect the levels of algae and can contribute to the formation of algal blooms on the lakes.

Warmer weather conditions are likely to lead to a natural increase in the abundance and variety of algae and other organisms in the lakes.

If an algal bloom develops on the Gippsland Lakes, information (factsheets and maps) will be available on this website and through local outlets, including local media, visitor information centres and tourism operators. It will also be posted on DEECA's Gippsland Facebook page.

We conduct weekly monitoring and reporting in the summer months unless there are significant changes to algae levels, and monthly testing is conducted outside this period.

Page last updated: 05/04/24