Authorities in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, China's key fishing production province, forecast outbreaks of red tide, a toxic algae known to kill sea life, off its shores this year.
The province was hit by 49 red tide outbreaks last year, affecting a total of 7,000 square kilometers and posing great losses to the fishing industry, according to the Zhejiang Ocean Monitoring Center.
The center targeted sea areas most likely to be hit by red tide this year and said outbreaks will come mainly in May and June. It predicted the first red tide will appear in late April.
China in recent years has been witnessing rising occurrences of red tide, which was a result of worsening human and industrial pollution of sea water and consequently the deteriorating oceanic ecology. In return the situation created ideal conditions for the toxic algae to prosper.
Red tide algae are commonly found in many of the world's oceans. They are fatal to fish and other oceanic animals but only become dangerous to humans when their numbers explode into massive blooms that turn the sea red. Scientists say the algae may be one explanation for the description in the Bible of rivers turning to blood.
The algae bloom often kills other sea life, but serious health problems for humans are rare. However, beachgoers exposed to the algae often complain of coughing fits or itchy eyes and ingesting too much of the toxin can cause illness.
(Xinhua News Agency April 8, 2004)