Fun in the sun (and slime)
July 25th, 2011
10:44 AM ET

Thick, green algae covers 200 square miles of Yellow Sea

Almost 200 square miles (500 square kilometers) of the Yellow Sea off China are covered by a massive bloom of green algae, according to a report from China's Xinhua news service.

The bloom has spread to almost 7,400 square miles (19,050 square kilometers) in total and is expected to grow, Xinhua reported, citing the North China Sea Marine Forecasting Center of State Oceanic Administration.

The algae bloom threatens marine life as it sucks oxygen from the water although the algae itself is not poisonous, according to the Xinhua report.

Researchers don't know what causes the massive algae blooms, first seen in the Yellow Sea in 2007.

Tons of the green algae had to be removed in 2008 to make way for sailing events at the Summer Olympics.

"We don't know where it originated and why it's suddenly growing so rapidly," Bao Xianwen from the Qingdao-based Ocean University of China, told the China Daily earlier this month. "It must have something to do with the change in the environment, but we are not scientifically sure of the reasons."

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Filed under: China
soundoff (427 Responses)
  1. Rosslaw

    Samot, I believe you're thinking of soylent green.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gordo

      Rosslaw, Soylent Green was people not sea weed.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sam

    Algae utilizes dissolved organic matter, phosphates, nitrates, silicates to grow. Pollution in addition to warmer seas is an algae haven. The Yellow Sea is very polluted, meaning lots of excess nutrients. I don't see how they are stumped.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • homer simpson

      I think you nailed it. They may understand the cause, but are stumped as to a quick solution.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gopra

      They're stumped only as to how to spin it. They know !$@# good and well what caused it – the fact that China is the most heavily polluted nation on Earth. Their dilemna is how to explain it without losing face. Chinks would rather starve to death than publicly admit something embarassing.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      No kidding right! They have an excess nutrient problem and they are scratching their heads because they don't want to admit that their LACK OF REGULATION on their farmers is causing the problem! They need to wake up and join the rest of the civilized world because no longer are they just screwing their environment, now their screwing OUR OCEAN all for a better bottom line profit margin. Pathetic.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kariya2004

    they should turn those green algae to fertilizer, ORGANIC!!

    July 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jiang Zemin-Xiang

      USA call it pollution. In China we call it 200 sq miles of good luck charm.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TampaMike

    Living near the Gulf of Mexico, I've heard most algae blooms are caused by a high amount of fertilizer discharging into the sea washed down rivers from agricultural areas. Higher sea water temperature also contributes to the problem. I'm surprised neither of these were mentioned in the article.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Whatznext

    The algae very likely comes from raw sewage and fertilizers dumping into the ocean from rivers. This article is so totally inadequate! Obviously was written by the Chinese.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    "sucks oxygen from the water "

    This statement does not make since. Algae give off oxygen as a byproduct! They should oxygenate the water...

    July 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I found this, if you're intereseted. I loked it up, since ou posed a great question>

      "First, to clarify, blue-green algae are actually a type of bacteria, they are classed in the phylum “Cyanobacteria.” Cyanobacteria (that is, blue-green algae) obtain their energy from photosynthesis, which does create oxygen. But, when blue-green algae die, they decompose by a process that uses cellular respiration, which uses up oxygen. Respiration disassembles carbon molecules and releases chemical energy. It is the decomposition of the cyanobacteria that causes oxygen depletion. Green algae also uses up oxygen in the same way when it decomposes."

      July 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Dan, thanks. That is very interesting and it makes since. I believe the article should have clarified on how the oxygen is depleted less you have people believing algae "breath" oxygen...

      July 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dom

      It is true algae produce oxygen, but only when there is enough light. Large algae blooms like this reduce the clarity of water and underwater light. When algae don’t have enough light they stop producing oxygen and in turn begin consuming oxygen. Also, when the large blooms of algae begin to die, bacterial decomposers further deplete the levels of oxygen.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    "I've never seen so many electric jellyfish in all my life!"

    July 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tom Cat

    Atleast they are breathing in the discharge from the algae. They also need to pick it up and dump it on themselves as punishment for copying everything that everybody else has invented.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kariya2004

    I guess CNN will never report news like oil spill by US company ConocoPhillips in China's coast couple of weeks ago. cover it up!

    July 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      It has been reported, but not heavily. It's kind of hard to yell "cover-up" in a nation with a free press. The more likely answer is that reporting on it doesn't bring in the advertising dollar, which the American press rely upon. The American media do not do their job well when it comes to reporting anything from oversea to begin with.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Whatznext

    "The algae bloom threatens marine life as it sucks oxygen from the water although the algae itself is not poisonous, according to the Xinhua report.".............. Algae is a plant. Plants make oxygen; they don't suck it. Algae makes a lot of oxygen during the day in sunlight. The problem is at night when there is no sun...they don't make oxygen, and the oxygen level in the water crashes... killing mariine life. Same thing can happen in aquaculture farms if alge is not controlled.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • hippypoet

      where did you read that crap, the algae is food for some fishies, while those are food for others, and so on and so on... and plants don't just stop making anything because the sun went away, they store engery and use it over time. if what you were saying was true our plants would die everynight and have to be brought back from the brink everyday... aquaculture farms have no sea life which is why things go wrong, you are missing a large chunk of the ecosystem that creates a life-cycle allowing the odd and misunderstood things to exist. anything created in a lab different to the real world because of how it came into existence in the fisrt place. then after that the enviroment that surrounds it is as close to the real thing as possible, AS CLOSE, not exact.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Thats a very simple view but not completely true. Consider this: Algae blocks algae. When that happens the algae below turns to consuming oxygen or dies which can also drop the oxygen levels. Even if they are plants, they consume oxygen as well when necessary and when you have that much in a small area, the levels drop.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jon


    July 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lisab

    Let's say ( an old ancient secret) that the green algae cures everything from cancer to impotence .............they will all start eating it BLAM... problem solved! Make teas, stews, fried over rice and even smoke it!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jake

    OOHHKAY!! Let's all go swimmin in the SALAD BOWL! Anybody got some BLUE CHEESE dressing to go with all that? Yummy! Seriously tho... You have to have some real issues to even THINK about wading into that mess! BLEAHHH!!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tee

    I can't believe anyone would want to swim in it.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Obamalito

    Change the name to the Green Sea! Yellow is too stereotypic for that part of the world! The 1 billion plus of excrement outflow is probably feeding it!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzuki Nakamura

      This is worse than anything in India, and China thinks it is cleaner than India. Hah!

      July 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • cnnpeacecnn

      Fukushima plant to be blamed,,,,,,,,,,

      July 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ragincajun

      Obamalito – No need to change the name of the sea. Ironically, qingdao translates literally as "green path".

      July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • ragincajun

      Suzuki Nakamura – I agree with your basic sentiment that China is a polluter nation, but this is hardly a golden bullet demonstrating that. We've had algae blooms in the gulf coast of the US fed by fertilzer runoff from the Mississippi river. India has had algae blooms too. Can happen anywhere when you've got lots of farming nutrients carried into the sea by river runoff.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
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