UK & World News

  • 1 February 2014, 8:58

Brazil's Hot Summer Causes Massive Algae Slick

A large red slick of algae visible from space is taking over the Brazilian coastline.

The dark red patch stretches almost 500 miles from Rio de Janeiro past Sao Paulo to the southern state of Santa Catarina.

It is a reaction to the hot summer in Brazil, with record temperatures and the lowest rainfall for 70 years.

It is made up of decomposing algae which has been eaten by micro-organisms and then killed by the rising sea temperatures. Although it is not toxic it can affect marine life.

Oceanographer David Zee told Sky News that a great amount of organic material which feeds off algae combined with the unusually warm sea water created the enormous red slick.

He added that the January heatwave has been so intense that only a big storm will break it and then split up and shift the red mass.

While the water at the top remains at 30C and the sea currents are not shifting the pollution from rivers the red slick will continue there.

In normal circumstances winds, rain and maritime currents do not allow such a slick to form.

Tourists saw green foam over several days on the beaches in Rio which was a product of the red slick.

Although it was not harmful many were put off by the sticky foam which came onto the sandy beaches.

But the hot temperatures mean that many are still heading to the beaches to cool off.

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