Yamba SLSC warns on hazards of cyclone wash-up
YAMBA Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) is warning beachgoers to stay out of brown sea foam washed up on Clarence Valley beaches after Cyclone Marcia.
Club captain James Ryan said he stayed clear of the foam so never had any problems with it, but over the years has heard of people getting sick from contact.
The foam is mixed with polluted stormwater from rivers or drains which discharge to the coast.
The foam can be polluted with viruses, other contaminants and even snakes.
If the foam forms from the breakdown of a harmful algal bloom, direct contact with the foam or breathing in foam particles as it dries can cause skin irritations or respiratory discomfort.
Not to mention the bad smell.
Mr Ryan said the foam concealed logs and rocks
"Don't go swimming in it because you can't see the hazards and it can be a health risk," he said.
Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community director Des Schroder said big seas and dirty water generated foam on the beaches and it was a common event up and down the coast when conditions suited, as they did now.
"While people love to play in it, the foam potentially hides potential hazards like sharps, logs, snakes etc on the beach and in the surf," he said.
"It may also lead to infections and should generally be avoided.
"When there is substantial rainfall and runoff associated with the rainfall it is likely water quality is not suitable for swimming.
"Around the river mouths people should avoid areas where there is debris or foam and should also be mindful that there are additional risks in terms of water quality, floating debris, submerged objects and sharks when there is a major flush.
"While the water is really dirty people should think about heading to pools or to beaches further away from the river mouths."
How it forms
Created by impurities in the ocean, such as salts, natural chemicals, dead plants, decomposed fish and excretions from seaweed.
These impurities are churned together by powerful waves, which cause the water to form bubbles.
As a wave starts to form on the surface, the motion of the water causes the bubbles to swirl upwards and mass together, forming foam.