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In China, a dead calm

The Yellow Sea has taken on a distinctly green tinge these days.

With less than six weeks to go before China hosts the Olympic sailing regatta, thousands of people and roughly 1,000 boats are busy scooping algae out of the ocean, according to The New York Times.

The algae covers about a third of the coastal waters designated for the Olympic sailing competition at this time, according to the report. The water quality has been a concern for the sailing events with China’s questionable management history. Coastal cities have been known to dump untreated sewage into the sea, and rivers, and tributaries emptying into coastal waters often are tainted with nitrates from agricultural and industrial runoff. However, officials say there is no “substantial link” to the overabundance of algae bloom this summer; rather they cite increased rainfall and warmer sea temperatures as the primary causes.

About 100,000 tons already have been removed, according to the report. It has been a bizarre spectacle for those on land watching wooden boats overflowing with the slimy green stuff load it onto trucks, which will process and use it for animal feed. The government also plans on installing a 30-mile fence in the sea to keep the algae at bay, according to the report.

Other countries who have arrived to train for the Olympics are finding the algae to be a nuisance. One Australian sailing team was caught in a carpet of it, and British windsurfer Bryony Shaw says it is simply unworkable.

“There is no way you can sail through it,” Shaw told The New York Times. “If it’s still here in August, it could be a real problem.”

— Elizabeth Ellis