Near Qingdao, China, swimmers continue to enjoy days at the beach despite heaping amounts of green algae that have bloomed and overrun more than 11,000 square miles of seawater, according to a CNN report. This year’s outbreak has more than doubled the previous record, a relatively miniscule 5,000 square miles in 2008.
The cause of these massive blooms remains under debate. Some scientists believe it’s a result of warmer water, while a Los Angeles Times piece suggested it may be increased by nearby farms, golf courses or gardens using fertilizer that washes into the sea.
While the algae isn’t believed to be a threat to humans, the smell has driven some beachgoers away, reports the BBC. It’s a toxic scent that occurs when the blooms are left to rot.
The local government plans to send the green blobs off to be dried and ground up for animal food.
Known as Enteromorpha prolifera, the green algae is bad for the seawater because it consumes a lot of oxygen, suffocating other nearby organisms, according to a Business Insider story. The mess costs tens of millions of dollars to remove on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars in damage it could cause to local fisheries.