June 28, 2005
Brown beach foam was just algae, says Environment Agency

The Environment Agency has confirmed that a large quantity of brown foam washed up along Burnham’s tideline last week was just harmless algae.

Several concerned residents contacted Burnham-On-Sea.com after spotting the foam along a stretch of the beach just south of Burnham’s lighthouse on the evening of Monday June 20th.

We reported it to The Environment Agency who investigated. Spokesman Dave Sharp said: “The scum photographed on the beach at Burnham is likely to be the result of Phaeocystis pouchetii, a very common algae in our coastal waters.”

He added: “The algae form a brown frothy scum which during windy weather can accumulate on the strand line in large ‘rafts’, before breaking down into an unpleasant slime. On the day the photo was taken there was a strong on-shore breeze which was whipping the sea up, so this probably explains this accumulation.”

“We routinely monitor the sea at Burnham for compliance with the European Bathing Water Directive. If any foam is noticed during sampling, we will as a matter of course take a sample for analysis.”

Meanwhile, Burnham beach is clean again now and none of the algae has been spotted since – with many swimmers enjoying cooling dips in the sea during recent days.


Burnham-On-Sea beach guide

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