Sun, Sand, & Monster Algae

It’s been hot and humid here for the past several weeks and I think the rains that were so frequent in June have finally stopped. The weather is now perfect for swimming. Yet, there is one thing holding me back:

This monster algae, or hutai as it’s known in Mandarin, has been showing up on the shores of the Yellow Sea for almost a decade. It’s presence was hard to miss as we scooted down the several miles of Feng Cheng’s main beach road, Haijing Lu. Dozens of workers were out, mostly older men and women, the grandparents of China who are often seen doing jobs like this — from sweeping up dirt along the roads to standing in the parking lots of grocery stores, making sure no one steals the carts. The men beat the heat by rolling their shirts up and letting their flabby bellies hang out. The women found shade under their over-the-top lacy sun hats that were more appropriate for tea with the queen than digging up water-logged, bright green algae.

DSC_6723Bulldozers roamed the beach and scooped up the mounds of algae built by the workers, then hauled them to the road where they were dumped. There the piles sat,  water seeping onto the concrete, a dank, salty, seaweedy smell wafting from them. Eventually, the algae got re-dumped into big red trucks that hauled it away.

The beach wasn’t overly packed with sunbathers or swimmers. Was this a symptom of what I’ve described in other posts — mainly the fact that no one lives in our little corner of Shandong province — or the algae? Who knows. But it’s not as if we swimmers should be fearful, if you believe the LA Times. The algae “poses no danger to humans,” according to a Qingdao tourism worker quoted in the article. CNN confirms that it’s “not toxic to humans, thank goodness.” Actually, let’s all be thankful for the algae, which is merely a by-product of the pollution floating out there in the world’s waters. Not only does it provide a kick of color to the normal dull brown hue of the Yellow Sea, its abundance provides employment for elderly Chinese. It’s also edible.

But we weren’t at the beach to swim on this occasion anyway. We weren’t even there to gawk at the algae or the crews cleaning it up. We were there to see the annual sandcastle competition, which for some inexplicable reason, was roped off to us on the hot Saturday afternoon we chose to visit.

This entry was published on July 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm. It’s filed under China, Haiyang and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Sun, Sand, & Monster Algae

  1. andi on said:

    the plans of the chinese marina look and promise a hope of an economy that can support this , reminds me of what the rehoboth crossing plans seemed to portray,now lots more units up but where is the landscaping and parking spaces diplayed on those pretty plannned pictures ???also right here in rehoboth there is a community called the peninsula that has been abandoned that i have heard went bust when the the housing debacle of the start 0f ’07 left unfinished and dreams of a nirvana lifestyle are left and the future to be determined – we over here have many things in common with the chinese construction , don’t forget that it took 2 engineering companies and more than 5 yrs for them to build the bridge over the indian river outlet , not something the delmarva taxpayers are exactly proud of as demonstrated by the many letters to the editor that i have witnessed over my summer vacation reading time …, big lol ! these imperfections of the ups and downs in culture are what really connect us globally to our shared humanity – joni michell said it the best ” they pay paradise and put up a parking lot “

    • Good points, Mother. I hadn’t thought about similarities between the construction boom in China and what’s going on in the home country. Maybe because at home, it’s not so obvious. Or maybe because I didn’t have the time or interest. But you and Joni are right, as always.

  2. Holy algae! Any chance that they’ll eventually get it all cleaned up or is this going to be a continuous problem? And wow: impressive sand castles!

    • It seems like it’ll be a problem throughout the summer, but I think the crews will be out there taking care of it too. If you check out my latest post, there is a ton of algae currently washed up near us and the nuclear power plant.

  3. SWAMP THING….AAAHHHHHH! Those sand castles are really cool! Do a lot of people ever go to check them out or crowd the beaches? Everything looks so dead around the beaches. What a difference from the crowds in front of Dolles! Mother said the other day as we strolled by “It’s like United Nations here!” Lol 😉

    • The beaches have become a little crowded, but nothing like the beaches get back home. The beaches in China are also less nation-diverse than back home. It’s the Chinese with maybe a handful of laowais.

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