China's toxic "blue tears" bloom in greater numbers

Though popular with tourists unique plankton poses threat to marine life

Liam James
Friday 14 June 2019 17:46

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.

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.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in