Another day, another ecological disaster in China.

china-articleLarge

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/world/asia/huge-algae-bloom-afflicts-qingdao-china.html?smid=fb-share

 

BEIJING — In what has become an annual summer scourge, the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao has been hit by a near-record algae bloom that has left its popular beaches fouled with a green, stringy muck.

The State Oceanic Administration said an area larger than Connecticut had been affected by the mat of “sea lettuce,” as it is known in Chinese, which is generally harmless to humans but chokes off marine life and invariably chases away tourists as it begins to rot.

Some beachgoers appeared to be amused by the outbreak, at least according to the Chinese news media, which in recent days have featured images of swimmers lounging on bright green beds of algae, tossing it around with glee or piling it atop of one another as if it were sand.

Local officials, however, are less enthusiastic. Last month, they declared a “large-scale algae disaster,” sending hundreds of boats and bulldozers to clean up the waters off Qingdao, a former German concession in Shandong Province that is famous for its beer and beaches. As of Monday, about 19,800 tons of the algae had been cleared, the Qingdao government said. While valued for its nutrition — or as an ingredient in fertilizers and biomass energy production — algae in large quantities can prove dangerous as it decomposes, producing toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. It also smells like rotten eggs.

The green tide, spread over 7,500 square miles, is thought to be twice the size of an outbreak in 2008 that threatened sailing events during the Beijing Olympics, which took place near Qingdao. Officials deployed boats, helicopters and 10,000 workers to keep the waters clear for the competition.

The cleanup costs were later estimated at more than $30 million. Abalone, clam and sea cucumber farms suffered more than $100 million in damage, according to a 2011 study by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences. A 2009 outbreak was bigger.

NYT

Qingdao’s algae is generally harmless to humans, but not marine life. NYT

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