Wednesday 8 September 2010

Beach foam

A few years ago, I was accosted (verbally) by a well-meaning, but misguided, young "eco-warrior" (her description!) who was appalled at the pollution on our beaches and wanted to know how the islanders could possibly allow it and why we didn't clean up our act. What she was referring to were great masses of whitish foam on the beaches at Machir Bay and Saligo. What she hadn't realised was that while foam can be caused by human pollution it can also be, as on our west coast, entirely natural. It arises from the breakdown of dead organic matter, like seaweed, plankton, marine animals, etc., which is then whipped into foam by the massive aeration that takes place as it all gets churned up by the waves as they approach the shore. The foam which sometimes appears on the Uiskentuie strand could well be boosted by human and agricultural organic matter, but on the west coast it will be of natural origin. I still don't know whether my explanation was believed. I suspect not!


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