Algae beach party

Beachgoers in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, were met with a fuzzy, green blanket of ocean last week, as the water there exploded with algae.

You've heard before about dead zones. These are patches of coastal ocean where river runoff full of fertilizer chemicals have produced massive algae blooms. As the algae die, their decomposition reduces the oxygen level of the water to the point that many fish and other aquatic life can no longer live there.

This is what a dead zone looks like, just before the death.

It's worth noting, when I pulled this photo out of the Reuters files, I could see similar shots, taken on the same beach, in 2010, 2009, and 2008. This isn't a fluke. It's an endemic problem.

Image: REUTERS/China Daily China Daily Information Corp - CDIC


  1. It’s unfortunate that a bright green species of algae is causing these blooms. The headlines would be much more dire if it were one of the red or brown types.

    1. You think so? Seems to me a neon green ocean is no less intuitively disturbing than a red or brown ocean.

      1. Well most humans associate that green color with healthy grass, trees etc. It even looks like a lawn.

        Now if it was dark red or brown, that would look a lot less healthy (as it actually is) to most people. 

  2. > While the algae aren’t toxic, big blooms can create oxygen-poor “dead
    zones” in the water and leave an unpleasant odor on beaches.


    > oxygen-poor “dead

    > unpleasant odor

  3. The red dragon is hungry, and eats everything around it. There will NEVER be effective environmental laws in the prc. Because of the aforementioned fact.

  4. Man…when Chicago dyes the river green for St. Patrick’s Day, they could only HOPE for results like this.

    1. That’s very odd. Because one of the links is to a BoingBoing article, and the other is to National Geographic. Neither of which, to my knowledge, is owned by Rupert Murdoch. 

      I think your Murdoch Block might be borked. 

  5. More than 30 dead wild boars have been found on the coast of north-western France this month amid suspicion of algae poisoning, officials say.

    In 2009 a horse-rider was rendered unconscious and his mount died after slipping on the algae, apparently after inhaling toxic gas released by the rotting seaweed.

    I think I’ll skip the algae beach party.

  6. The algae were in the news during the ’08 Beijing Olympics when Qingdao was the venue for the Sailing Competition.  Huge quantities had to be gathered up before the races could take place.  I think they ended up composting the algae, and there was talk about making this into an industry of its own.

  7. It appears that most of the people on the beach are collecting the algae and putting it into white bags. They also have buckets.
    What can it be used for? Fertilizer? Food?

  8. I would have to be on fire before I went in to that algae covered water, and even then I might consider rolling in the sand as an alternative. 

  9. As it sucks up all the nitrates and other nutrients from the fertilizer runoff, I wonder if some locals collect it and reuse it as fertilizer. It’s great for gardens. I imagine it would take a massive effort to collect and transport large amounts.

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