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. nambi

    Apparently you can get bio fuels from algae, maybe this cam be put to good use?

    July 25, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hampmaster

    That is disgusting. Why are they swimming in there?
    "Ooh I'm swimming!"
    Might as well swim in a puddle or a wilderforest.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ted

    Yeah CNN dig up a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and have him officially blame "Global Warming" though this is nothing new.
    And +1 on turning it into Fuel.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    The fatty acids in algae can be made into bio-diesel. Looks like a business opportunity.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. nyfb

    Wonder if it has something to do with all the toxic waste the Chinese pump out each year? The whole reap what you sow type thing.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Toxic waste wouldn't do it. It's more likely some nutrient, like fertilizer runoff.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eddie

    @Connor, when there is no direct sun, the plant consumes oxygen. Also, the thick mat created warms the water and warmer water holds less oxygen. Considering the air pollution problems in China which would reduce sunlight, emphatically, YES, algae blooms can *lower* oxygen content.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Connor

      False. How do plants get energy? Photosynthesis. What does photosynthesis use? Carbon dioxide.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      @Connor – and photosynthesis requires what? Light... What's not present at night? Light... does the plant still need energy to live at night? Yes, it does. At night it does cellular respiration using stored glucose which consumes oxygen...

      July 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fritz

    Why not scoop the green poop, convert it into chow, dump it into ships, then rush it to the Somali coast and pump it ashore? That would solve the famine crisis. It could also be used as a dastardly weapon against Somali pirates. Once a pirate gets blasted in the face with green sea poop, he'll think twice before pirating someone again!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sbk

    How can you turn a wet, sopping mess into fuel?

    It's only specially engineered types algae that can produce ethanol for fuel, and even those are not economically sustainable yet.

    And algal blooms are a major cause of oxygen depletion in lakes and seas, regardless of whether they are photosynthetic or not.

    People need to get an education (or even read a book) before they spew their ignorance all over the internet.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • KarmaD

      Actually, all algae store their excess energy as fat, which takes the form of vegetable oil. Depending on the species and the growth conditions, it can be a very high percentage of the algae mass. It can either be extracted and processed in biodiesel, or it can by dried and burned.
      It makes a much better fuel than ethanol, it mixes with diesel easily, can run in any diesel engine without modification (up to about a 50% mix), and helps engines to last longer than they normally would, as it is a good lubricant.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jdog

    raw sewage being dumped????

    July 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    Wow and I thought the Jersey Shore was bad.. I will never complain about our beaches again! lol

    July 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. new york

    They know what's causing it.... GREED!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sulden

    A country of billions, who eat fish.
    a country of billions killed their fish.
    a country of billions soon coming after "your" fish.
    if not now.... eventually. it's inevitable.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Nice pair of noids you got there.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jdhartlv

    And they say the big bad US pollutes more than anyone else. Doe's anyone out their truly believe that China cares about the environment? If so let me know I have some dirt you can turn to Gold, just send me your money.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. kathic

    Often they are caused by agricultural runoff. That may be the case here but who knows.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luis

      More often than not, sudden coastline algae growth has a lot to do with heavy use of fertilizer followed by heavy rains which cause the fertilizer to filter to the subsoil/runoff to the water streams and into the ocean where it's readily accessible food for the algae and it causes it grow out of control. It just wreak havoc in the coastal ecosystem. Fertilizer usage needs to be revised worldwide and more eco-friendly system such as no-tile or organic system need to replace more standard agricultural practices. It's a win-win for China and the rest of the world as we continue to attempt to feed ever-increasing population food demands.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. myway8

    The Chinese eats anything, perhaps they should start eating them to control them.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuckles

      Not necessarily a bad thing seeing how obese we are from eating all kinds of meat.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
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