Cleveleys sea foam phenomenon to be broadcast to worldwide audiences in new TV documentary - here's why

The infamous sea foam which causes chaos on Cleveleys Prom during storms is to be investigated by an Australian documentary team.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 10:33 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 11:38 am
A car covered by sea foam on Cleveleys Prom in 2017

The foam, which has nothing to do with pollution, is created when storm conditions whip up decaying algae in the sea.

The area was last struck by the phenomenon in 2017 when Storm Ophelia battered the Fylde coastline.

Pictures were published all over the world as cars and lorries were engulfed in the white foam.

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A car covered by sea foam on Cleveleys Prom in 2017

Other incidents occurred during the winter months in 2011 and 2015, sparking headlines all around the world about the Fylde Coast enjoying an “early white Christmas”.

Now the events – which leave the prom resembling a huge washing-up bowl – will come under the spotlight of environmental experts down under.

Impossible Planet will feature footage of the prom becoming engulfed in foam and examine the cause of the events.

Producer Briege Whitehead said: “we aim to showcase how incredible the planet really is and the people who interact with it.

“All our stories are about encapsulating the heart of these stories with the help of those who are closest to the phenomena and history of the land.

“We want audiences to be left with awe and appreciation for the amazing phenomena and cultures we’re fortunate enough to have on Earth.”

The foam is a regular sight when the weather gets rough, and is often presumed to be dirt or scum swept up from the seabed.

However, Wildlife Trust marine community engagement officer Emily Parr said: “The foam that washes in, particularly when the weather gets stormy, is completely natural. “It is all to do with the natural materials in the water. “The sea water has lots of different parts in it and part of that can be algae.

“When the algae starts decaying you get something called ‘algal bloom’. That’s a normal thing. The consistency of the matter increases and that’s what is washing up.”

“Nothing has changed in the composition of the water, it’s just the stormy weather that results in it all being churned up to the surface and it’s blowing ashore.

“It happens everywhere, not just in the Irish Sea. It’s not at all harmful to animals, marine life or humans.

“It just doesn’t look very nice.”

Emma Whitlock, of Fylde LOVEmyBEACH, said: “I have heard about it being an issue in the Cleveleys area. “As a group we focus on pollution on our beaches.

“If it’s something natural then we’re not worried about it. “It does bother people when it gets on their cars and houses and it’s a bit of a pain, but it’s something that comes along with living near the sea.”

Impossible Planet will use video footage taken by local residents to illustrate the sea foam documentary.

Australia, itself, is no stranger to sea foam incidents. In August 2007: A large buildup of sea foam occurred on the coast of Yamba, northern New South Wales. And in January 2008 a sea foam occurrences at Caloundra and Point Cartwright on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast attracted world-wide media attention.

The latest large scale recorded incident was in March 2017 when sea foam was generated by Cyclone Debbie at Sarina Beach in Queensland, attracting visits from worldwide scientific teams.

Is the sea foam at Cleveleys toxis or not?

Naturally occurring sea foam is not inherently toxic; however, it can be exposed to high concentrations of contaminants in the surface microlayer derived from the breakdown of algal blooms, fossil fuel production and transport, and stormwater runoff. These contaminants contribute to the formation of noxious sea foam through adsorption onto bubbles. Bubbles may burst and release toxins into the atmosphere.