A warning has been issued by Highland Council after toxic blue-green algae which is harmful to humans and animals was found in a loch.
The council’s environmental health team are advising caution as blooms were found in Loch Watten in Caithness.
Exposure to high levels of blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, skin, eye or throat irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties in human beings and animals.
Pet and livestock deaths can occur if large amounts of water containing blooms, scums or benthic mats are consumed.
Samples taken at the loch have indicated the presence of blue-green algae.
During periods of prolonged warm weather, the chance of blue-green algae affecting water courses, particularly ponds, lochs, canals, and sometimes rivers increases significantly, the council said.
It added: “Contact with blue-green algae can have health effects for humans and animals. The situation is being investigated by The Highland Council’s environmental health team, in partnership with NHS Highland Public Health and wider colleagues.
“As a precautionary measure, contact with the algal scum should be avoided by people and pets.
“Notices will be posted next to the loch warning that contact with the algal scum should be avoided.”