It is believed that the young oyster farmer, whose body was found in Morlaix Bay in Brittany on July 6th, died from inhaling toxic gases emitted by the green algae which is present in the area in large quantities.
According to local prosecutor Jean-Philippe Récapé, examinations of the body revealed the young man “had previously appeared to be in good health”.
An autopsy will be carried out in order to determine the exact cause of death and if it is linked to the proliferation of green algae it will not be the first.
Back in 2009, a 48-year-old man died after driving a van full of green algae, with a court admitting nine years later that the algae had been dangerous.
A jellyfish surrounded by green algae on Plage du Ris in Brittany. Photo: AFP
In 2011 dozens of wild boars were found dead on a beach in western France, with green algae suspected to be the cause.
The issue has been taken up by environmental organisations in the area.
Two of these groups – Sauvegarde du Trégor and Halte aux Marées Vertes – have suggested that the most recent death could have been caused by hydrogen sulfide, the potentially-fatal gas released by algae as it decomposes.
The reason for the increase in green algae in the area is not known for sure, although nitrates from farming methods can encourage growth, particularly in warm weather.