Some workers trying to clean up the inky beaches wore little more than rubber gloves, complicating efforts, one official said. But 40 oil-control boats and hundreds of fishing boats were also deployed in the area.
"I've been to a few bays today and discovered they were almost entirely covered with dark oil," said Zhong Yu, a worker with the environmental group Greenpeace China, who spent Wednesday on a boat inspecting the spill.
"The oil is half-solid and half liquid and is as sticky as asphalt," she told The Associated Press.
The oil was spread over 165 square miles (430 square kilometers) of water five days since a pipeline at a busy northeastern port exploded. State media says no more oil is leaking into the sea, but the amount of oil spilled was not clear Wednesday. Based on the known figures, the spill is significantly dwarfed by the BP oil spill off the U.S. coast.
See photos of the spill and the explosion: