Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday - sea foam

Okay, so I'm making a bit of a stretch today because sea foam is hardly wildlife...but it's something that has me a bit fascinated, and repulsed.

The ocean has always fascinated me. As a kid I loved swimming and mostly swam in a salt water pool, our local pool. We lived near a river, holidayed on a river, and spent days at ocean beaches. So water is a big part of all my childhood memories.

I moved inland when I finished uni, which took me away from the water I knew, but I discovered inland waterways that were equally fascinating (even if the fish tasted muddy!). But now I've moved back to the coast and I live right near a river, and right near the beach. So it's perfect for remembering great days as a kid.

But I've no memory of sea foam!

We probably never went to the beach after bad weather because when we went to the beach we went to swim. But living near the beach, I try to go whatever the weather, and it's not all about swimming any more.

After rough and/or stormy weather, we have tonnes of sea foam. It's like a dirty detergent. It makes the bottom of my feet dirtier than usual, and the top gets a gooey kind of film on it...and depending how high those pesky waves hit me, it can go right up my legs!

So what is sea foam?

Sea foam, also called spume, is caused by turbulence in sea water, particularly if the sea water has a lot of dissolved organic matter in it. Dissolved organic matter can come naturally from the breakdown of algae and other sea life, but more likely from man-made sources such as stormwater run-off and ocean spills. Stormwater run-off can contain lots of plant material, like dead leaves, plants that have washed away from river banks or gutters, as well as more commonly thought of pollutants, like excess detergents and fertilisers.

So the presence of sea foam after storms or rough conditions is 'natural' because the sea has to be churned up to create it - which is what happens in storms/rough conditions.

On my beach, the sea foam generally only lasts a day or so after the storms have passed. It's all the other rubbish tossed up onto the beach that lasts a lot longer! Mostly I pick up a few bits and pieces of rubbish on the beach, but after a week of storms, you have to take a garbage bag and still you'd hardly make a dint in the rubbish.

My greatest fear is that we're slowly killing our planet, and we don't give a damn so long as our life is 'easy' with all the mod cons. I've no idea how I can change that. As one person I do the best I can, but to function in society, it's very difficult to stick to a simple life. I add to the abundance of sea foam...and that annoys me.

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