Going Green 2: Algae on the Way

Update from China Daily: 7-03-2010

An expanse of green algae sprawled over 440 square kilometers in the coastal city of Qingdao, Shandong province, remains an ecological threat, local marine forecasters said on Friday. Though the plankton, namely enteromorpha prolifera, is not toxic, it blocks sunshine for marine life, experts said. Moreover, once the algae hits the beach and is left untreated, its fast decomposition may trigger an outbreak of red algae. The expanse has been proliferating since it was first reported. From 330 sq km, the algae had spread over 12,400 sq km on the Yellow Sea as of June 23, according to official data. Due to the wind and currents, the algae reached some islands and beaches south of Qingdao, blanketing its western coastline since June 28, the North China Sea Branch (NCSB) of the State Ocean Administration said.

“The city is besieged and the algae will keep affecting the region till the end of July”, Huang Juan, director of forecasting center under the NCSB, told China Daily on Friday. “Though enteromorpha is not edging closer today, it will hit more islands and beaches in Qingdao in the next two days,” she said. Huang said that Qingdao’s Lingshan Bay, Tangdao Bay, Xuejia island, Tuandao island and Laoshantou would be affected by the algae by July 4. Between 16 and 20 C is the ideal sea temperature for algae growth, said Pang Shaojun, a researcher from the Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The air temperature in Qingdao has risen by 1 C per day on average over the past five days, reaching 27 C on Wednesday, the city’s meteorological bureau said. “The sea temperature has risen to 20 C today (Friday), and the algae will keep growing if the temperature continues to rise,” Pang said. The green algae did not catch the public eye until it started showing on the coast of Shandong province every summer since 2007, especially when it intruded the yacht training area and parts of the sailing routes of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Professor Bao Xianwen from the Qingdao-based Ocean University of China said research centers have yet to figure out the reason for the feverish growth of algae in recent years. “We don’t know where it originated and why it’s suddenly growing so rapidly. “It must have something to do with the change in the environment, but we are not scientifically sure about the reasons,” Bao said. He said the State Ocean Administration had initiated a project to study the phenomena and find a cure in 2009, but no progress has been made. “Most of what we can do is to predict drifting routes as accurately as possible for effective interception.”

Over 6,000 people, including cleaning workers and sea police, were deployed to clean the green algae, as its continuing spread might affect the local fishery and tourism industries, said Ding Shugen from the Qingdao Committee of Municipal and Rural Construction. The Qingdao Evening News reported that 400 locals had registered as volunteers to help clean up the beaches by Thursday. And 66 fishing boats, with a capacity of netting more than 1,000 tons of algae, had begun trawling since Tuesday.

Update from AFP via Google: 6-24-2010

A floating expanse of green algae floating off China’s eastern seaboard is growing and spreading further along the coast, state-run media has reported. The algae bloom has expanded by about 50 percent since it was first reported by state media earlier in the week to 320 square kilometres (120 square miles), or about four times the size of Hong Kong island, Xinhua news agency said. The algae island was previously situated several kilometres off the coast of Shandong province but has expanded southwards to waters off neighbouring Jiangsu, it said in a dispatch late Wednesday.

Original post: 6-23-2010
Presently there is an approaching ‘blob’ of algae coming north from the coast near Rizhao, Shandong. Algae blooms along the coast near Shandong are nothing new, having freaked out the athletes and organizers just weeks before the 29th Sailing Regatta of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. While the effects of algae blooms on marine life can be devastating, at least it’s not oil.

From Xinhuanet.com
QINGDAO, Shandong, June 22 (Xinhua) — A large expanse of green algae is floating towards east China’s coastline, an oceanic official said Tuesday. The green algae, namely enteromorpha prolifera, presently covers about 200 square kilometers of sea off China’s Shandong Province. The green mass is about 13 kilometers from Jiaonan City and 16 km from Dagong Island, according to the North China Sea Branch (NCSB) of the State Oceanic Administration. The NCSB first detected the green expanse in the sea off the coast of Rizhao City in Shandong last Monday and since it has continued to drift north.

It would move northward, according the sea’s flow, at a speed of 7-9 kilometers per day and would come closer to the coastline, said Liu Fenglin, spokeswoman of NCSB. The NCSB has started an emergency response. Local governments have dispatched vessels to clear the algae from the sea. Though not poisonous and with no affect on water quality, the algae can consume large amounts of oxygen, threatening marine life, according to Pang Shaojun, professor of Chinese Academy of Sciences. If the green algae was not cleaned in time, it could affect the development of the tourism sector in the coastal area as the rotten algae emits a foul smell, according to Pang.

Green algae emerged in the Yellow Sea in 2007. Local residents and soldiers removed tens of thousands of tonnes of the algae in 2008 before the Beijing Olympics’ sailing competitions kicked off in Qingdao of Shandong.

It should be noted that the cause for the 2008 green tide is not suspected to be the pollution from factory or agricultural run-off as many originally thought or reported. At a scientific mission in China sponsored by the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese scientists from Yantai reported that aquaculture farming of nori seaweed led to the growth of another type of seaweed which was subsequently dumped in the ocean to create “the world’s largest macroalgal bloom” over large areas of the Yellow Sea. See map below as the local media such as Bandao newspaper track the movement of the algae towards Qingdao.

Zhan Qiao Algae Marcus Murphy Photo

Relevant Links:
Conservation Bytes

Photo Credits @ Panaramio, Bandao, Marcus Murphy

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  1. Joz whatever

    oh no!!! again…

    • Exactly what I was thinking, I was really looking forward to swimming alot this summer but looks like that got shot to sh*t

    • nah man, they will clean it up soon. I hear a lot of the algae is going to be used for fertilizer or other purposes. It’s not edible though and purported to stink pretty li hai… get them speedos out man, you’ll get some swimming in at the Silver Sands this year yet… There’s always Old Stone Man if you like bigger waves.

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