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China’s toxic “blue tears” bloom in greater numbers

China’s toxic “blue tears” bloom in greater numbers

Though popular with tourists unique plankton poses threat to marine life

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1/12

Glowing blooms of “blue tears” in China’s sea may dazzle tourists with their sparkle but as their numbers grow, so too do fears about their toxic potential.

Yu-Xian Yang / Lienchiang County Government

2/12

“Blue tears”, or “sea sparkles”, are plankton found in coastal areas that can light up the coast due to a unique trait that causes them to turn luminous blue when disturbed.

Muto Lisp

3/12

This visual treat has led to beaches where the plankton are found becoming popular tourist destinations in recent years but despite their enchanting appearance, the plankton could prove detrimental in the long term.

Muto Lisp

4/12

Though they pose no direct threat to humans, the concern with “blue tears” is that they secrete ammonia, which can prove harmful to ocean life in high levels as it depletes oxygen levels in the surrounding water.

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

5/12

Scientists have been tracking the plankton off the coast of China and a new report finds that they have been blooming in greater numbers in recent years, in turn posing a greater threat.

Muto Lisp

6/12

The report suggests that the growth could be put down to many factors including warmer temperatures and an excess of nutrients entering the sea due to increased use of fertiliser.

Sander van der Wel

7/12

If this is the case, then the blooms may continue to grow in coming years.

Muto Lisp

8/12

This series of images shows how the ‘blue tears’ emit a luminescence when distrurbed (1 of 3)

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

9/12

This series of images shows how the ‘blue tears’ emit a luminescence when distrurbed (2 of 3)

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

10/12

This series of images shows how the ‘blue tears’ emit a luminescence when distrurbed (3 of 3)

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

11/12

In great numbers, “Blue tears” are a form of red tide, a bloom of algae that becomes so dense as to pose a threat to its surrounding environment

Bruce Anderson

12/12

They are found all over the ocean but the “blue tears” off the east coast of China have been the focus of scientists in recent years

Muto Lisp

1/12

Glowing blooms of “blue tears” in China’s sea may dazzle tourists with their sparkle but as their numbers grow, so too do fears about their toxic potential.

Yu-Xian Yang / Lienchiang County Government

2/12

“Blue tears”, or “sea sparkles”, are plankton found in coastal areas that can light up the coast due to a unique trait that causes them to turn luminous blue when disturbed.

Muto Lisp

3/12

This visual treat has led to beaches where the plankton are found becoming popular tourist destinations in recent years but despite their enchanting appearance, the plankton could prove detrimental in the long term.

Muto Lisp

4/12

Though they pose no direct threat to humans, the concern with “blue tears” is that they secrete ammonia, which can prove harmful to ocean life in high levels as it depletes oxygen levels in the surrounding water.

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

5/12

Scientists have been tracking the plankton off the coast of China and a new report finds that they have been blooming in greater numbers in recent years, in turn posing a greater threat.

Muto Lisp

6/12

The report suggests that the growth could be put down to many factors including warmer temperatures and an excess of nutrients entering the sea due to increased use of fertiliser.

Sander van der Wel

7/12

If this is the case, then the blooms may continue to grow in coming years.

Muto Lisp

8/12

This series of images shows how the ‘blue tears’ emit a luminescence when distrurbed (1 of 3)

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

9/12

This series of images shows how the ‘blue tears’ emit a luminescence when distrurbed (2 of 3)

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

10/12

This series of images shows how the ‘blue tears’ emit a luminescence when distrurbed (3 of 3)

Sheng-Fang Tsai / National Taiwan Ocean University

11/12

In great numbers, “Blue tears” are a form of red tide, a bloom of algae that becomes so dense as to pose a threat to its surrounding environment

Bruce Anderson

12/12

They are found all over the ocean but the “blue tears” off the east coast of China have been the focus of scientists in recent years

Muto Lisp

Glowing blooms of “blue tears” in the East China Sea continue to attract tourists in record numbers, but the plankton can prove detrimental to fellow sea life.    

Also known as “sea sparkles”, the organisms found mostly in coastal areas turn luminous blue when disturbed, providing a visual treat for those present and making them a popular attraction for visitors.  

Despite their enchanting appearance, the plankton could prove detrimental in the long term.

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Although they pose no direct threat to humans, they secrete ammonia which can prove harmful to ocean life in high levels because it depletes oxygen levels in the surrounding water.

Scientists have been tracking the plankton off the coast of China and a new report in the Geophysical Research Letters journal suggests that have been blooming in ever greater numbers in recent years, in turn posing a greater threat to their fellow sea life. 

The growth could be put down to many factors including warmer temperatures and an excess of nutrients entering the sea due to increased use of fertiliser, the report suggests. 

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