Glowing blue shores in Hong Kong may look beautiful, but they are dangerous

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Glowing Blue Shores in Hong Kong

The sight of the waters off Hong Kong these days can take your breath away -- but the haunting fluorescent blue seas can also be lethal to marine life because it deprives the water of oxygen.

The glow is a kind of red tide that is caused by Noctiluca scintillans, an algae marine biologists call "sea sparkle." It's a rare organism that can act both as animal and plant.

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Hong Kong blue shore
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Glowing blue shores in Hong Kong may look beautiful, but they are dangerous
HONG KONG - JANUARY 23: Blue glow created by harmful Sea Sparkle algae appears at Tai Po seashore on January 23, 2015 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Algal blooms occur when there is a sharp growth in algae population in a water system. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - JANUARY 21: Blue glow created by harmful Sea Sparkle algae appears at Tai Po seashore on January 21, 2015 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Algal blooms occur when there is a sharp growth in algae population in a water system. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
AP LEI CHAU, HONG KONG, HONG KONG SAR, CHINA - 2012/05/05: The sky around Aberdeen Marina is lit up by forked lightening as it strikes the South China Sea, during a major thunderstorm in Hong Kong in the early hours of Saturday 5 May, 2012. (Photo by Stefan Irvine/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TO GO WITH Lifestyle-entertainment-conservation-HongKong,FEATURE by Adrian AddisonThis photo taken on February 2, 2011 shows visitors looking at the new aquarium at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Ocean Park insists it has a strict animal acquisition policy which complies with all international regulations and any animals taken from the wild are from sustainable sources, but it was in hot water recently with local conservationists after it brought dozens of rare Pacific blue fin tuna to the park, around ten of which died on the way from Japan. AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE (Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH Lifestyle-entertainment-conservation-HongKong,FEATURE by Adrian AddisonThis photo taken on February 2, 2011 shows the new aquarium at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Ocean Park insists it has a strict animal acquisition policy which complies with all international regulations and any animals taken from the wild are from sustainable sources, but it was in hot water recently with local conservationists after it brought dozens of rare Pacific blue fin tuna to the park, around ten of which died on the way from Japan. AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE (Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH Lifestyle-entertainment-conservation-HongKong,FEATURE by Adrian AddisonThis photo taken on February 2, 2011 shows visitors looking at the new aquarium at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Ocean Park insists it has a strict animal acquisition policy which complies with all international regulations and any animals taken from the wild are from sustainable sources, but it was in hot water recently with local conservationists after it brought dozens of rare Pacific blue fin tuna to the park, around ten of which died on the way from Japan. AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE (Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)
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The algae looks red in the daytime but shows up blue once the sun sets. Scientists say the beautiful blue algae is linked to chemical run-off from farms and sewage from businesses.

Scientists warn that the blue hue is a growing global problem that could eventually boost the amount of harmful toxins in the human food chain.

The algae is most dangerous when it dies, David Baker from the Swire Institute of Marine Science at the University of Hong Kong told CNN. "That's when we have the formation of these dead zones, where anything that's living, any fish or crab species living on the bottom, is at risk of dying from the low oxygen associated with that decomposition."

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