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. tyrone tyree jones

    Why don't you all eat it......1.2 billion people can't be wrong!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bumpkin

    There's gotta be some reason to harvest this stuff.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |

    poop... poop

    July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. justathought

    China has always been a people who will do anything to save face. This has got to be something other than the fault of China. So go ahead China; this must be the "The Green Blob from Outer Space". [Next movie from China] Putting joking aside, this could turn into a very serious problem that China may not accept any help to clean it up.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew

    Harvest it for diesel

    July 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      I like that idea!

      July 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Guest

    "Tourists enjoy the coastline despite the algae bloom"... that has got to be the least enjoyable beach on this planet.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GOP want rapture

    Global warming is not real because Glen Beck says so and he knows more than scientist

    July 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JIM

      i hope it is real, could use some warmer weather.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. alexash

    why are they swimming in it?

    July 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      They are Chinese....duh.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. doug litrich

    bio-fuel, sweet

    July 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |

    poop i say!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jane Doe

    Wait–does the article say algae REMOVES oxygen from the water? Can our writer at least wiki algae blooms. The algae ADD oxygen to the water. It is when dead algae decompose that oxygen is taken from the water by the bacteria that decay the dead algae. Algae produces most of our breathable oxygen–rainforest schmaneforest, algae produce much much more O2 for our breathing pleasure.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Perfesser Firefly

      Jane, come on. This is CNN. Whaddya expect? Journalism?

      This ain't the Sorbonne.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • r0n77

      can we not get too semantical here? The net effect of the growth and decay of algal blooms is less oxygen in the water. Oxygen produced by algal blooms goes into the atmosphere.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • humanbean

      Hilarious how you criticize what you believe to be the author's ignorance, only to prove your own without actually comprehending the information that you brought over here. Yes, oh brilliant one (and several others here), the algae does produce oxygen...for the air WE breath, but when the algae dies it is broken down by bacteria during the decaying process and the bacteria use oxygen from the water (not the same thing). In the end, the sea life has less oxygen to utilize. I doubt you'll understand this because you obviously had a really hard time with what you cut and pasted from Wiki.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. glooby

    Lets create a hybrid strain and mix it with Marijuana.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • letssmokeit

      the best idea yet!!

      July 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. letsgomets2011

    It's really very simple - something nearby is being discharged into the water and the algae is feeding off the discharge.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Holly

    "The algae bloom threatens marine life as it sucks oxygen from the water although the algae itself is not poisonous..." Typically algae use photosynthesis to take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmINuts

      Haha thats what I just posted. I even Wiki it to make sure I remember what my 8th grade Biology class taught me. A lot of the world's supply of Oxygen comes from Algae in the Ocean.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob MIch

      Thank you! China needs to fire there Scientists and pick up some Grade school Biology books.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael P

      Yes this is true, but then they quicky die and decay which drains the oxygen in the water.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edgar

      Most photosynthetic organisms will release oxygen during the "light phase" of photosynthesis where they split the water molecule using sunlight. But there's also the other part os the story...they do breath to get energy from what they produced...

      July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      That's what I thought. But then I thought CNN writers must know more than me. But then I though again and said to myself "Self, no , you are correct." Thanks for giving me my sanity back.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Oxygen is produced only when a light source is present (sunlight). At night or on a cloudy day the algae consume the oxygen from the water and the local critters suffocate.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darthlawsuit

      You are half correct. During the day it produces oxygen. However during the night it uses oxygen.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dill Weed


      A big stool doesn't always mean a clogged toilet – and it's probably not going to give off oxygen.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • chuck

      A quick google search will find you an explanation of why algae blooms deplete oxygen. It's amazing how many people jumped on this, without knowing what they were talking about themselves. A little knowledge is dangerous indeed.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • 4sanity

      During the day, algae are net producers of oxygen via photosynthesis. But they also consume oxygen during respiration. At night time, these massive algal plumes deplete the water column of dissolved oxygen leading to anoxia (too little oxygen to support animal life). And in addition as these mass of algae die off, bacterial plumes feeding on the decaying matter further deplete oxygen supplies. So the article was exactly right.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Yes, but that goes into the atmosphere. When the algae dies however, as it decays, it goes the other way, using all the oxygen from the water.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheKeeper

      @AmINuts Good idea since Wikis are SO factually reliable ...

      July 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nope

      When algae dies, bacteria eat the material. This process is what sucks up the oxygen.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oxygen depletion -

      A massive bloom of planktonic (floating) algae such as blue-green algae can contribute to oxygen depletion in three ways.

      1) A huge floating algae mass can serve as a physical barrier to oxygen exchange between the atmosphere and water
      2) It can prevent light penetration to oxygen producing algae living below the water surface.
      3) Aerobic bacteria can use up the remaining dissolved oxygen in the water while decomposing the dying mass of dead algae

      July 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • meconium

      Just because Algae use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis doesn't mean they don't use oxygen for aerobic respiration. A common mistake people make is this whole CO2 for plants/O2 for animals dichotomy they get themselves lost it. Plant cells have mitochondria just like all other respectable eukaryotes, and they need their oxygen. The reason why there's a lack of oxygen is because the dead plant material creates a lot of nutrients which bacteria feed off of. Bacteria don't have oxygen as a byproduct, so they consume all the oxygen in the water to fuel their aerobic respiration, producing anoxic conditions. This was a big problem in the Chesapeake Watershed decades ago when phosphates were used in detergents that washed away into lakes and stuff. Lots of nutrients doesn't necessarily translate to good news... even if it is called "eutrophication," which literally means "good growth."

      July 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Three reason:
      -blocks the sun for other plants
      -blocks oxygen exchange
      -algae continue to die synch to the bottom where they decay consuming a lot of oxygen in the process.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mike

    It looks good enough to eat. And if you ground up some of those swimmers , minus goggles . You might be on to something. Our world enviroment , ecology has been altered , along with the weather. Its a wonder what we will be eating in the near future. If , you have something fresh to wash it down with.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
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