Sea foam swamps Australian beaches amid spell of extreme weather

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The famous beaches of Australia’s Gold Coast were in places rendered almost invisible by vast quantities of thick sea foam for a second day on Tuesday. The foam is a naturally occurring phenomenon but has appeared in larger than usual quantities amid another bout of extreme weather in the country.


Some children and families headed to beaches on Australia’s eastern coast to catch sight of the unusual occurrence and even play in the bubbles.

The foam is mostly made up of decaying organic matter and poses little danger, say experts.

“People get quite alarmed when they see sea foam. But sea foam is largely protein that’s coming from degrading organic matter in the oceans and that would largely be plankton, algae, a little bit of fungus, a little bit of bacteria and as it degrades it forms something that is kind of like the surfactants or the foaming agents we see in soap,” Professor Jodie Rummer of James Cook University told Reuters.

“By and large these naturally occurring sea foam events are not damaging and are part of a natural cycle.”

But while the foam itself may be nothing to worry about, it has been churned up by the latest spell of extreme weather to hit Australia.

An intense low-pressure system has triggered cyclonic conditions off the eastern coast in recent days with heavy rains, fierce winds and high seas swallowing entire beaches, including the main beach at popular tourist spot Byron Bay.

It comes just weeks after nearby Fraser Island was evacuated due to bushfires and scientists have attributed the erratic conditions to the impact of the La Nina weather pattern combined with the long-term effects of climate change.

“Well, what we’ve got here is yet another event. An extreme weather event coming on the back of climate change that our community’s dealing with. It’s about the fourth or fifth major event in the last couple of years,” Simon Richardson, mayor of Byron Shire, told Reuters.

“Right now around Byron, we’ve got some severe weather, massive swells, we’re watching our beach disappear.”

Source: Thanks france24