Picturesque Italian Lake Suddenly Turns Blood Red

Picturesque Italian Lake Suddenly Turns Blood Red
Lago d'Averno seen in satellite images one month apart.

The waters of Lago d’Averno, a volcanic crater lake in Southern Italy, have transformed since early March to become a murky blood-red due to an overgrowth of algae. The European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite and local photographers have captured the lake’s eerie new vibe.

Too much algae

Photo: Vincenzo Izzo/LightRocket, Getty ImagesPhoto: Vincenzo Izzo/LightRocket, Getty Images

Scientists observing the lake believe that the drastic change in colour is due to a seasonal algae bloom and the accumulation of nutrients in the lake’s water, according to local newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno. Nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen occur naturally and can be found in many lakes.

Risk to animals

Photo: Vincenzo Izzo/LightRocket, Getty ImagesPhoto: Vincenzo Izzo/LightRocket, Getty Images

The water quality could affect the many different species that live in or near the lake. Some research has found that algal blooms can weaken the immune systems of animals living around them. Mass fish deaths are also linked to algal blooms, which can suck up oxygen from the water.

Cyanobacteria, photosynthetic bacteria

Photo: Vincenzo Izzo/LightRocket, Getty ImagesPhoto: Vincenzo Izzo/LightRocket, Getty Images

Microscopic organisms called cyanobacteria gain energy through photosynthesis and are known to cause red waters around the world. The CDC warns people to stay away from algal blooms, which can produce toxic gases. Toxins from blue-green algae may be able to go airborne and potentially harm people and pets, research has suggested.

Animal habitat

A drone view of Lago d'Averno.A drone view of Lago d’Averno.

Here’s what the lake usually looks like. The beautiful area is known for its biodiversity and is a protected zone within Italy’s Regional Park of Campi Flegrei.