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. GLen

    Really...? The pictures' caption says that it threatens marine life by sucking oxygen out of the water... I am no marine biologist or botanist (whichever applys) but I thought that plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. This algae is likely producing a significant amount of oxygen for this planet, is it a good idea to try to kill it or remove it? It might be "mother nature" helping to correct for our excessive carbon emissions.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • dAvid

      The problem is when the algae dies. When it decomposes, it consumes dissolved oxygen in the water. Therefore, there is much less oxygen available in the water for fish and other animals.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Just your luck, I have a degree in marine biology and am currently a freshwter ecologist. During the day, plants and algae take in CO2 and produce Oxygen (photsynthesis). At night however, plants and algae respire juts like you and me, taking in oxygen and producing CO2. This happnes here too, nutrients from agriculture, lawns, leaky septic tanks, etc. cause excessive algal growth, which then deplete O2 levels in the water column, often leading to fish kills.

      Hope this helps.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaSu

      Because the amount of algae produced in an algal bloom is so great, the amount of oxygen taken in during the decomposition process of all the dying algae is greater than the amount produced by those still alive through photosynthesis. This has been known, in numerous studies, to lead to the asphyxiation of other living organisms near the bloom. For your edification:

      If only it were the other way around!

      July 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tha Chikin

      Actually Glen, the algae takes oxygen from the water... which in turns kill fish. If fish don't have "air" to "breathe", they die. It is pretty much harmless to humans... fatal for fish. In a couple of days, there will probably be a lot of fish loss in the area due to the abundance of algae. That is if there are any fish in the polluted water.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason K

      Glen you are partial correct. During daylight hours plants use water and sunlight with C02 to photosynth its food. However, during the night cycle plants respire like their animal kingdom counterparts and actually take in oxygen and give off C02. I'm no biologist either, but this could create a dead zone similar to the one in the gulf of Mexico where there is a huge area of un-oxygenated water. Needless to say, this can cripple their fishing industry in the area.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mike

    The algae dies and the decay consumes the oxygen. It is the same thing that happens in the gulf coast dead zone due to fertilizer runoff.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • getthefactsstraight

      I agree. massive bloom=massive death=massive amount of decomp= oxygen is used up very quickly.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. getthefactsstraight

    A huge floating algae mass can also serve as a physical barrier to oxygen exchange between the atmosphere and water, and it can prevent light penetration to oxygen producing algae living below the water surface. Finally, aerobic bacteria can use up the remaining dissolved oxygen in the water while decomposing the dying mass of dead algae.(Algae is constiantly dying as well as constantly reproducing)Yes, it takes in CO2 and releases O2, but decomposition requires WAY more O2 then living. But there are many gaps in the current knowlege of these blooms. <- just some information i pulled from doing a tad bit of research on the matter

    July 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tilahun

    Very useful plant; It sucks carbondioxide from air, can be used as fertlizer....

    July 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    perfect for a biofuel plant!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • ragincajun

      Right on -algae biodiesel.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. willie

    Probably farm run off and sewage are the sources. Algae can be useful, they should farm it.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ed Shultz


    July 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • whobandman


      July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Josh

    I noticed in my aquarium if I don't clean the poo out I get lots of algae too.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tommy

    may b the yellow sea it in trouble now let do something about it

    July 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dino

    One word: MANATEE

    July 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JDinKC

    They should farm it, pull it out of the water and process it for any materials possible. I know there has been some research on obtaining oil from Algae.

    Even if that technology is still lacking, or its the wrong type of Algae, it could be pressed, dried, and used in some manner, even if for fertilizer, or land-fill between layers of other material when filling in non-buildilng places that need leveling. (i.e. under parks or parking lots, but not filling in under constructed building where settling would be a problem.)

    They definitely can't just leave it out there though, the in-water decomp is bad news, and pulling it out would also take some of the chemicals out that it has been feeding off of.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cnnpeacecnn

    Explosion of Fukushima nuclear plant??????????

    July 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cnnpeacecnn

    Buy BP cleaning reagent.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Weed

    They need more asian crap. we got alot

    July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HELLO

    Get some pool cleaner throw it in there cant be any worse than what caused it any way ..Or They can just eat it wrap the sushi up in it ..Instead of the fish eating it.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
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