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Red algae bloom closes Sydney's beaches, but probably not for long

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Daniel Munoz/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A couple of young surfers play with a small wave during a morning surf at Coogee beach in Sydney, Australia, in October. A red algae bloom has closed 10 beaches so far in and around Sydney and up the more northerly Central Coast in Australia during the past 24 hours.

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Don’t worry. It’s not blood. It’s not even poisonous, just an irritant to skin and eyes and to anyone hoping for a swim now that summer’s finally about to hit Sydney.

A red algae bloom has closed 10 beaches so far in and around Sydney and up the more northerly Central Coast in Australia during the past 24 hours. And more beach closures could be on the way, say officials. But aside from some startlingly other-world pictures, it's not likely to scare away the tourists.

The "crimson tide," or an algal bloom that has variously been compared to shark attacks or oily tomato sauce in the Aussie media, washed up on Sydney shores earlier this week, temporarily closing famed tourist beaches like Bondi. But it doesn't seem like too many around here are worried.

Turns out the blood-colored algal bloom isn’t a result of pollution, but rather an upswelling of nutrient-rich waters that the buoyant algae can feed off. Two different blooms have apparently come from the same source and essentially floated to Sydney’s shores. Their ammonia-rich diet can cause skin and eye irritations but little else problematic, according to experts. 

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