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article imageChina's Yellow Sea turns green during summer in Shandong

By Karen Graham     Jul 9, 2015 in Environment
Qingdao - The Yellow Sea along the coast of Shandong province in eastern China has been turning green during summer weather for the past several years. Experts have yet to discover the origin of the thick blanket of green enteromorpha algae.
The thick coating of the "green sea lettuce" has hit the towns of Qingdao and Rizhao the hardest, requiring local officials to haul the mess away by the dump truck load.
People living in Qingdao have become used to seeing the luxurious green carpet on their coastline and don't think a thing about it being there. The algae is harmless to humans, and for those who want to take a dip in the ocean, it's just a matter of wading through the plants.
Beach goers don t let a little algae stop them from enjoying summer.
Beach goers don't let a little algae stop them from enjoying summer.
Andre Heath
Many people come to Qingdao and Rizhao just to see and take pictures of the unusual phenomenon, and many more crowd the shallow waters, wading through the greenery. But there is a downside to the algae bloom. As the alga decomposes and starts to rot, hydrogen sulfide gas is released, leaving the area reeking of rotten eggs.
In 2013, the New York Times reported the Qingdao government removed 19,800 tons of algae. The alga blooms began appearing in 2007, and some years have been worse than others.
The enteromotpha algae is composed of hollow  tube-like filaments. It is not harmful to humans.
The enteromotpha algae is composed of hollow, tube-like filaments. It is not harmful to humans.
Andre Heath
When the blooms are heavy, aquaculture suffers. Abalone, clam, and sea cucumber farms suffered more than $100 million in damage from a 2008 outbreak of the green algae. It is suspected that algae blooms are connected to pollution and increased seaweed farming in the province just south of Shandong.
When the algae start decomposing  hydrogen sulfide gas is released  smelling like rotten eggs.
When the algae start decomposing, hydrogen sulfide gas is released, smelling like rotten eggs.
Andre Heath
And even though green algae blooms are seen worldwide, the yearly bloom in the Yellow sea is the world's largest, growing to an estimated million tons of biomass annually.
The green alga is not really a sea lettuce. Its scientific name is Enteromorpha flexuosa. It is a filamentous light green alga found all over the world in shallow brackish or marine habitats. The word, "enteromorpha" literally means "intestine shaped." This describes the hollow, tube-like filaments of the plant and is why its common name is "hollow green plant."
More about Yellow sea, Shandong, enteromorpha algae, intestine shaped, Green algae
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