A huge toxic “red tide” has spread out across the waters off southern China, contaminating seafood and posing a health risk for swimmers, state media reported Thursday. The algae bloom, which sucks the oxygen out of the water and kills marine life, has struck near Shenzhen, a booming city just across the border from Hong Kong, the China Daily newspaper said.
“This is the biggest red tide that has ever appeared off the city’s coast,” said Zhou Kai, a marine expert with Shenzhen·s municipal sea fishery environment monitoring station. “We strongly urge the public to stay away from the polluted sea areas and not eat sea products from there.”
Zhou blamed the combination of hot weather and heavy rainfall for the 50-square-kilometre (20-square-mile) build-up, according to the report. However the waters off southern China, like elsewhere across the nation, are well known to be heavily polluted by industrial discharges and a host of other contamination sources.
A government report released last month said the worsening pollution in China·s Pearl River was causing severe contamination of southern sea waters. The report found that pollutants such as inorganic nitrogen, phosphate and petroleum were boosting the number of “red tides,” which produce a foul smell and give the water a reddish hue.
The China Daily said it was the third such bloom this year in the area, while another red tide was affecting the waters off Hong Kong. In another recent water pollution incident, millions of residents in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi had their drinking supplies contaminated
after an algal bloom spread across nearby Taihu lake. More than 70 percent of China·s waterways and 90 percent of its underground water are contaminated by pollution, according to government figures.