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Marine Foams & Algal Deposits

Incidents of 'foaming' at Westward Ho! beach and along the River Torridge can occasionally be seen.

Advice from the Environment Agency is that this type of foaming is a common event in many coastal areas of the South West, and indeed in the UK generally and in many parts of mainland Europe. In the case of Westward Ho! bay, various inputs such as nutrients from land run-off conveyed by the rivers can cause increased nutrient loading of the bay that can create the desired environment for algae to grow.  Algae may also grow in other areas and be carried many miles by tides and currents. Rough seas and strong winds increase the occurrence of marine foams on beaches too.

Algae may combine to form quite large clumps which are sometimes seen floating in the River Torridge or in the estuary.  This material is often mistaken for sewage, but sampling has shown that it is definitely not.

Although rather unsightly, the foam and deposits do not give rise to public health concerns.  For further information regarding algal blooms see the download to the right or contact the EA by phoning 03708 506506 or by visiting their website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk.