Massive, recording breaking blooms of the algae Enteromorpha prolifera have been washing up on China’s beaches in Shandong province, near Qingdao.
The bloom is the size of Connecticut and officials have already removed 19,800 tons of algae from beaches. This is the largest bloom since 2008, which covered 5,000 square miles. That year, the algae cost $30 million to clean up and according to a 2011 report, cost about $100 million in damages to fisheries in the area, since the algae soaks up oxygen in the water, choking off other marine organisms.
The blooms first started in 2007, and researchers aren’t sure if they are cause by pollution or by changes to seaweed farming practices to the south of Qingdao.
The city has a population of more than 8 million, and tourists flock to the coasts during the summer months.
This year's algae bloom is record-settingly huge, double previous records, according to the State Oceanic Administration.
The algae begins to rot and smell, producing toxic hydrogen sulfide gas which smells like rotten eggs. So far, officials have removed 19,800 tons of algae from the area
Scientists think pollution and increased seaweed farming in the province just south of Shandong may be to blame for this year's massive outbreak.
The algae can choke off oxygen to marine life in the area. The 2008 outbreak cost about $100 million in damage to fisheries in the area, according to a 2011 study.
This year's incident has swathed 11,158 square miles, twice as much as the previous biggest bloom in 2008.
2013 may have been the most massive algae bloom to date, but the tiny plant-like organisms have been growing in the coastal waters for years.
Every year an outbreak of the green algae infests coastal waters. These residents are helping to remove the algae frp, a beach using nets.
The huge green tides of this scale were first reported in the area in 2007, so it's a relatively new phenomenon.
This is could be due to increased agriculture and city waste water running into the oceans as the area is built up
: Nori farms to the south of the beach grow porphyra seaweed in large rafts in the open ocean. These rafts attract algae, which get cleaned off each spring into the Yellow Sea.
Researchers think this algae may feed off nutrients and warm temperatures in the ocean, causing the bloom.
Seaweed has long been farmed in the area, but the rafts were first sent far offshore starting in 2006.
If the seaweed farmers change the way they dispose of the algae that grows on their rafts, it might help curtail the blooms.
Sailing boats are pictured next to a patch of algae on the water of a bathing beach in Qingdao, Shandong province July 7, 2008
Both factors probably work together to increase the algae growth, which has been a headache for local officials.
The 2008 bloom covered about 5,000 square miles. Authorities deployed boats, helicopters, and 10,000 workers to clear the waters, costing $30 million.
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