What is algae?
Algae are microscopic organisms that are capable of producing oxygen through photosynthesis. However, unlike land plants they do not have roots, stems or leaves and have primitive methods of reproduction.
Algae grow almost everywhere in the world. They are a vital part of the ecosystem, providing food and shelter to other organisms and play a crucial role in the ability of an aquatic ecosystem to absorb nutrients and heavy metals.
Algae are also able to survive on land and can be found on tree trunks, animal fur, snowbanks, hot springs and in soil.
They can range in size from large kelp (metres in length) to those visible only under a microscope.
Some algae have an economic importance because they are a source of carotene, glycerol, and alginates and can be converted into a food source for aquaculture.
What problems do they cause?
Algae can harm people and animals when swallowed, inhaled or touched. Here are a few of the negative effects that algae can have on people, animals and the environment: