By Eric Brown: Subscribe to Eric's RSS feed
September 7, 2012 9:52 PM EDT
A stretch of China's Yangtze River has mysteriously turned red around the city of Chongquin. Officials are investigating the river's transformation, as nobody is quite sure what caused it. The river began turning the color of a nice marinara sauce on Thursday.
The Yangtze River is the longest in Asia and the third-longest in the world. The affected area of the river -- reportedly turned "the color of tomato juice" is generally in the vicinity of the industrial city of Chongquin, although red sections of the river have been reported elsewhere, as well.
While some citizens are concerned about the river turning red, others are interested by the transformation. The Daily Mail has several photographs of Chongquin inhabitants fishing in the water and filling bottles with the red river water to show off later.
Scientists are looking to a natural cause for the river's change in color. Emily Stanley, who researches limnology (the study of inland waters) at the University of Wisconsin, believes it is possible microorganisms could be behind the sudden change, but that it is probable there is a much better explanation for it.
"When water turns red, the thing a lot of people think of first is red tide," Stanley told LiveScience. "But the algae that causes red tide is a marine group and not a freshwater group, so it's highly, highly unlikely that this is a red-tide-related phenomenon."