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Old 19-09-2007, 12:17   #1
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Foam Engulfs Australian Beach

The following news item was sent to me by an acquaintance, and is from the Australian Daily Mail:

"Cappuccino Coast: The day the Pacific was whipped up into an ocean of froth

By RICHARD SHEARS

"It was as if someone had poured tons of coffee and milk into the ocean, then switched on a giant blender.

"Suddenly the shoreline north of Sydney were transformed into the Cappuccino Coast.

"Foam swallowed an entire beach and half the nearby buildings, including the local lifeguards' centre, in a freak display of nature at Yamba in New South Wales.

"One minute a group of teenage surfers were waiting to catch a wave, the next they were swallowed up in a giant bubble bath. The foam was so light that they could puff it out of their hands and watch it float away.


"Boy in the bubble bath: Tom Woods, 12, emerges from the clouds of foam after deciding that surfing was not an option."

To read the complete story, and see additional pictures, go to:

Cappuccino Coast: The day the Pacific was whipped up into an ocean of froth | the Daily Mail

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Old 19-09-2007, 12:55   #2
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If I understand correctly, it is a good sign to have foam. It means things are in a healthy balance in the water. But I am not sure about this kind of quantity.
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Old 19-09-2007, 13:10   #3
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If I understand correctly, it is a good sign to have foam. It means things are in a healthy balance in the water. But I am not sure about this kind of quantity.
My understanding is that foam is a byproduct of disolved organics being seperated from solution by agitation and air bubbles. The DOCs stick to the air bubbles and float to the surface. This is same principal used in protein skimmers.

I wonder if a ship dumped a huge quantity of nasty stuff near shore...
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Old 19-09-2007, 13:24   #4
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My understanding is that foam is a byproduct of disolved organics being seperated from solution by agitation and air bubbles. The DOCs stick to the air bubbles and float to the surface. This is same principal used in protein skimmers.

I wonder if a ship dumped a huge quantity of nasty stuff near shore...
The explanation from the story in the Daily Mail is as follows:

"Scientists explain that the foam is created by impurities in the ocean, such as salts, chemicals, dead plants, decomposed fish and excretions from seaweed.

All are churned up together by powerful currents which cause the water to form bubbles."

The dissolved organic compounds listed in the explanation from the article sound more appealing than what you suggest, drh1965, but I wouldn't particularly want to inhale or ingest either one.

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Old 19-09-2007, 13:36   #5
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For a good explanation, goto:
"Foam: A Cause for concern?" ~ by Dave Courtemanch, Aquatic Biologist
Lakes Page - FAQ - Foam, Maine DEP
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Old 19-09-2007, 14:43   #6
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The explanation from the story in the Daily Mail is as follows:

"Scientists explain that the foam is created by impurities in the ocean, such as salts, chemicals, dead plants, decomposed fish and excretions from seaweed.



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Yuk the kid above is covered in dead fish
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Old 19-09-2007, 21:36   #7
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wow that's crazyyy!
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Old 19-09-2007, 23:04   #8
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::nod::

Same as any foam line on the beach, just on a bit grander scale.
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Old 20-09-2007, 00:38   #9
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Yes...but can you bottle it ans sell it?
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Old 20-09-2007, 02:55   #10
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...what no beer jokes ?....
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Old 20-09-2007, 04:14   #11
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Stuff the beer jokes,I like my beer at home.I must be weird,all I saw was a few girls in a BIG stand-up bubble bath,pic #2.Mind you,If ya droped about 40 Darwin stubbies the effect might be simmilar.Especialy if they were warm.Mudnut.
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Old 20-09-2007, 04:46   #12
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Unfortunately, not all water-surface foams are naturally-occurring.
Sometimes, the foam may be the result of surfactants, introduced by industries* to disperse (disguise) their industrial effluents. These discharges are often most evident in rivers.

* Pulp and paper is one of the largest industrial polluters in both Canada and the United States, and releases well over a hundred million kg of toxic pollution each year. Agriculture is the biggest polluter, even more so than industries and municipalities. In virtually every country where agricultural fertilizers and pesticides are used, they have contaminated groundwater aquifers and surface waters.
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Old 29-09-2007, 17:33   #13
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I have some doubts as to the explanation given by the un-named scientists. I doubt that it is industrial pollution either--there was no industry anywhere near the places I have seen it..

Unless one can examin a sample of the foam and assess it properly one can not be certain. I think there are other more likely and less toxic explanations for the foam. I have seen it elsewhere in the word, once in New Zealand on the West Coast, once in the Gulf of Aden. It may not have the same exact causes in different areas either--and while it may have organic origins I doubt it is purely a decomposition product. I suspect it is a spawning residue--initially keeping eggs and milt coated with a film to ensure protection or perhaps easier fertilization. After the eggs are fertilised and the fry hatch--the film continues to drift close to the surface.

The foam has a sort of a plankton smell, a little like oysters. The formation of the cohesive film gives rise to the bubbles--which I suspect are a product of wave action with the cohesive film. When one gets into the stuff it clings readily to the skin too. It is, by the time it reaches shore, more on the surface of the water than in it.

I have never seen large rafts of it out on the ocean, just clumps a few metres across and about thirty centimetres high. I have only seen a large build-up in the shore break.
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Old 29-09-2007, 18:39   #14
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Doesn't Sydney have underwater sewerage discharges going out into the Tasman sea???
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Old 29-09-2007, 19:56   #15
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Doesn't Sydney have underwater sewerage discharges going out into the Tasman sea???
Sydney does have "deep ocean outfalls" where sewerage is discharged into the sea some miles offshore. They replaced inshore discharge outlets some years ago.

Sometimes when offshore, you can detect when you are near the outlets as there is a change in the colour of the water.

I have never heard these outlets contributing to a foam blanket such as the one pictured in the original post.
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