Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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'Yellow' Sea? China Awash In 11,158 Square Mile Algal Bloom

Algal Bloom

(Photo : Reuters) Swimmers in Qingdao brave waters turned green by a huge algal outgrowth.

Beachgoers in the Chinese port city of Qingdao were greeted with a breathtaking view of a rolling green landscape...only it wasn't land. The beaches and tidal zones of the city in Shandong  Province were lined end to end with emerald green algae. And it was breathtaking because it reeked. 

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Officials believe that at 11,158 square miles, it is the largest algal bloom in Chinese history. While local environmental authorities eased public concerns after tests identified the algae as Enteromorpha prolifera, a non-toxic species to both humans and animals. But while harmless, the grand scale stunned the city now familiar to the sight of blooms. Qingdao and several ports along the Yellow Sea have experienced the phenomenon for the last six years. 

A few brave souls took to swimming in the green goop, but most hung to the shore. 

City officials enlisted the muscle of a fleet of bulldozers to clear area beaches. Once removed and dried, the algae is used as a component for animal feed. 

It is highly unlikely the event was natural. Algae growth explodes into a bloom when an overabundance of nutrients enters the water. Environmentalists suspect phosphates and other fertilizers used in Chinese agriculture were flushed into off-shore ecosystems via area rivers, providing fuel to local populations of Enteromorpha prolifera. A similar bloom in France last year was also attributed to local farms.

Officials up and down the Yellow Sea coast are clamoring to get the bloom out of the sea. The floating beds of algae block sunlight to corals, and once the algae begins to die and rot, it consumes so much oxygen in the water that sea creatures suffocate.  Noxious fumes rising from algal blooms along the French coast have been known to be so intense as to send people to local hospitals and kill animals on land within minutes. 

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