TJ Larson

Chinese officials are puzzled as to why the Yangtze River has suddenly turned red. The river, which is the third longest in the world, reportedly began to take on its blood-like tinge on Friday near Chongquing; a city near where the Yangtze and the Jialin River merge.

There has been much speculation about what caused to river to turn red. Since Chongquing has a large industrial presence, chemical contamination has been named as a possible suspect. The phenomenon known as "red tide" was also considered but experts have ruled out that possibility.

"When water turns red, the thing a lot of people think of first is red tide. 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," according to Emily Stanley, a professor of limnology (the study of inland waters) at the University of Wisconsin, in an interview with LiveScience.

Stanley goes on to explain that occasionally fresh water does take on a reddish color due oxygen deficiencies that promote the growth of color-producing bacteria. Stanley said however, that the conditions present in most rivers rarely allow for such an occurrence. After seeing images of the river, Stanley believes that the source is likely pollutant-related.

Meanwhile, the river has become somewhat of an oddity among the local people with some reportedly putting the water in bottles, while fisherman continue to fish in the crimson-colored waters.

This event occurs in the wake of a series of earthquakes that rocked parts of China as well, on Friday. The quakes struck southwestern portions of the country which is also the same region where the Yangtze began turning red. These quakes have reportedly killed at least 64 people, destroyed more than 30,000 homes and caused major landslides in several areas.

There has been no word from officials on whether they suspect that the Yangtze turning red is related to the quakes at this time. The incident is currently under investigation.