Any of you that have been swimming recently on the south Devon or Cornish coastlines may have noticed some large areas of water that are brown with practically zero visibility. Don’t worry, these aren’t areas of sewage or anything unpleasant, it is just a non toxic algal bloom that we are currently having. Personally I have seen it and swam in it at Tinside and Bovisand near Plymouth on two separate occasions. If the wind picks up then it may turn into a brown froth that accumulates on the beaches and starts to smell like sewage as it decays. Of course this is Devon and Cornwall, so we probably wont have to wait long before the rain washes it all away.
Here is a bit more information from an environment agency officer:
Recent sampling by the Environment Agency has revealed that a bloom of the marine microalgal species Phaeocystis is present at several bathing waters. Analysis of algal samples collected show they contain large numbers of Phaeocystis which is an aesthetic nuisance species rather than harmful/toxic. Currently the bloom is widespread across most of the south coast of Devon and Cornwall and is growing in terms of the number of incidents being reported. The bloom can appear as a brown frothy scum which onshore winds can whip up into a brown foam. Once onshore it breaks down into a brown slime which can smell similar to sewage. It is expected that due to the settled weather at the moment these blooms will persist for a while longer.
The picture at the beginning of this article was taken from the seos-project.eu