Monday, June 30, 2008

Chinese Algae Blooms Choking Olympic Sailors

Professional RS:X class windsurfer and marine biologist Farrah Hall sent me this interesting link about a horrendous macroalgal bloom in the Chinese Olympic sailing venue.


These types of macroalgal blooms are often a sign of "anthropogenic eutrophication". That means they are caused by excessive nutrients from sewage, farms, and other human activities on land. It's not suprising that uber-polluted China would be having these problems. Maybe this international embarassment will be the kick in the pants they need to start cleaning up their coastal oceans.


Even more disgusting pictures here.


PeconicPuffin said...

Gag! I'd seen some photos of boats in that muck, but the closeup of a windsurfer really brings it home. What a mess. That must really be playing havoc with what's beneath the surface...what happens to the oxygen? The light?

James Douglass said...

Yeah, big blooms like that can be bad news. When they die and sink to the bottom, or at night when they aren't photosynthesizing, they really suck the oxygen out of the water, causing anoxic "dead zones" that kill fish and shellfish.

Some ways that everyday people can prevent eutrophication are: 1) Don't put so much fertilizer on your lawn or garden, 2) Buy organic food and "green" cleaning products, 3) Eat less meat (because it takes much more farmland to make meat than to make vegetables), and 4) Let lush, natural vegetation grow around your property, especially near streams and waterways.

Robert Bruce said...

This is a serious issue in Mashpee and East Falmouth, Ma. that hasn't been addressed except with study and talk. However, it's the lack of sewage treatment and the >>bloom<< of septic tanks that has caused the eutrophication. The towns allowed the builders to work unchecked with N.Y. financing for a decade or more without realizing what was going to happen.

John said...

hope they brought their weed fins! i wouldn't want to be sailing in that mess. I guess all that stuff i learned in Oceanography this past year really is true :-p

uglyjiber said...


Can you put me in touch with the photographer of some of those shots?


James Douglass said...

Robert Bruce- Yep, eutrophication seems to be a problem almost everywhere you have a high human population density near the water. But good sewage and stormwater management can reduce it.

John- Yeah! Although, I doubt even a weed fin could get through some of that stuff.

Josh- I got the pictures off the website, but similar pictures are cropping up on news sites all over the web; even the Drudge Report and BBC world news. One of the pictures was from RSX sailor Marina Alabau, so maybe you could contact her through her facebook page.

Catapulting Aaron said...

i recommend that they not eat the algae so as to reduce the choking risk.