Olympics Red Tide Horrors

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Yellow Sea turns to pea (soup that is). The Olympics red tide could not have come at a worse time. With less than six weeks before it plays host to the Olympic sailing regatta, the city of Qingdao has mobilized thousands of people and an armada of small boats to clean up an algae bloom that is choking large stretches of the coastline and threatening to impede the Olympic competition, the International Herald Tribune reported on Monday. 20,000 people have either volunteered or.....more likely.....been forced to scoop up the green algae in order to rid the red tide in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics. "We will make all our efforts to finish this job," said a propaganda official in Qingdao. "Now, forces from the entire province have become involved." He said ships and boats had been sent from two other coastal cities, Rizhao and Yantai, to help haul away the algae. Yuan Zhiping, an official with the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Committee, said Sunday that the government would attempt to block algae from floating into the Olympic sailing area by installing a fenced perimeter in the sea that is more than 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, long. "I believe we will make sure the Olympics sailing area is clean by July 15 through our efforts, and make sure the Olympics sailing goes smoothly," Yuan said, according to the Shandong News Web site. "Red tide" is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom, an event in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, or "bloom". These algae, more specifically phytoplankton, are microscopic, single-celled protists, plant-like organisms that can form dense, visible patches near the water's surface. Certain species of phytoplankton contain photosynthetic pigments that vary in color from green to brown to red, and when the algae are present in high concentrations, the water appears to be discolored or murky, varying in color from purple to almost pink, normally being red or green. "Red tide" is a colloquial term used to refer to a natural phenomenon known as a "harmful algal bloom" or "HAB." Since 1) a wide variety of algal species can cause a red tide, 2) red tides are not necessarily red, and many have no discoloration at all, 3) are unrelated to movements of the tides, and 4) a wide variety of algal species are known bloom-formers, the term "red tide" is being phased out among researchers in favor of the more appropriate "harmful algal bloom" for harmful species, or simply "algal bloom" for non-harmful species. Causes of "red tide" are not entirely known but coastal water pollution produced by humans and systematic increase in sea water temperature have also been implicated as contributing factors in red tides. Harmful algal blooms may cause harm through the production of toxins or by their accumulated biomass, which can affect co-occurring organisms and alter food-web dynamics. Impacts include human illness and mortality following consumption of or indirect exposure to HAB toxins, substantial economic losses to coastal communities and commercial fisheries, and HAB-associated fish, bird and mammal mortalities. To the human eye, blooms can appear greenish, brown, and even reddish- orange depending upon the algal species, the aquatic ecosystem, and the concentration of the organisms. Photographs in the Chinese media showed rickety wooden boats overflowing with green mounds of algae collected from the sea, according to the International Herald Tribune. One photo showed a young boy crouched on a beach beside piles of the leafy glop as a dump truck carried off a large load of algae. State media reported that 100,000 tons of the algae had already been taken out of the water. Much of it was being transported to farms as feed for pigs and other animals, according to news reports. Online gambling websites were preparing odds for the 2008 Olympics with extensive betting expected worldwide. Bookmaker.com was offering a massive 20 percent signup bonus and allowed betting in most currencies including euro, pound, US dollar, Canadian dollar, etc... ---- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com Originally published June 30, 2008 6:56 pm EST

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