by Quentin Sommerville
Young recruits from the People's Liberation Army threw off their shoes and stood knee-deep in the thick green algae that has overwhelmed the Qingdao coastline.
Some had shovels, others used pitchforks, but mostly they worked with their hands to tear up great lumps of the heavy, sodden weed.
More than 10,000 of the recruits have been deployed.
"We're working nine-hour days. I've been here six days, and still more and more of it keeps coming," said one of the soldiers.
With every wave more of the algae comes ashore. Earth-moving equipment has arrived and long mechanical conveyor belts; perhaps they will speed up the progress.
On one of the beaches is holidaymaker Wang Weizhong. The sludge ruined his holiday, and his anticipation of the Olympic Games.
"We are really disappointed," he said. "We had no idea something like this would happen here."
"We came for the pretty scenery, to get a taste of the preparations and excitement of the Olympics," he said.
Locals say the algae has never been so thick here - agricultural and industrial pollution are thought to be responsible.
But China, embarrassed by the most vivid proof yet of its environmental problems, says the algae is a natural occurrence, and blames the sea for being too salty, the sun for being too hot.
At a news conference earlier in the day one official suggested that algae could be good for you.
"The Japanese eat it," she said.
Article continues at BBC News.