Parts of the Gulf of Finland near St. Petersburg have turned bright blue and green, in what environmental analysts say could be the result of blooming algae but requires further investigation, Russian media reported.
The city's environmental prosecutor's office on Monday gathered water probes for analysis and tried to reassure local residents that the color change had not been caused by any chemical or oil spills, state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
“The bright green color of the Gulf's coast is the result of blooming algae and has a natural organic character,” the prosecutor's office said in a statement cited by RIA Novosti.
But fears of chemical contamination still remain, a spokesperson for the environmental prosecutor's office was quoted as saying by Russian News Service agency.
“This may be natural blooming, but traces of petrol are visible on the water surface, and there are a lot of questions,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying. “It could be paint, and if that is the case, emergency services will remove the whole upper layer [of water].”
The alarm was raised after a local resident sent several photographs of the brightly-colored waters to the city's Fontanka news agency, which published them online early Monday.
The images showed intensely green-colored water, and large blue and green stains on the sand and pebbles on the edge of a beach – traces apparently left behind by the receding tide.
“Is this some kind of an illegal spill? Or are they now dumping paint into the Gulf? There are resorts all around, vacationers, birds and fish, after all. Just horrible,” she was quoted as saying by Fontanka.
The analysis of water samples could take up to two days, Russian News Service reported.