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Thread: What causes sea foam?

  1. #1

    What causes sea foam?

    Can you imagine this?
    Cappuccino Coast
    Sea Foam Caused By an Unlikely Mix Of Weather And Ocean Conditions Coated the Town
    By Kari Pugh
    Updated December 11, 2007

    It looked like the stuff of a barista's nightmare—a giant frothy wave swallowing the shore, coating people and anything else in its path with bizarre, bubbly sea foam.





    Like a page from a science fiction novel, pictures document the day in August when the shoreline in Australia's New South Wales was transformed into the "Cappuccino Coast."

    Teens on surfboards were waiting for a good wave that day when the bubbles rolled in. The froth, light and fluffy, took over the beach and the neighboring surf club. For as far as the eye could see, the Pacific Ocean was nothing but foam.

    Scientists later said the froth extended out 30 miles from the coastline.

  2. #2
    maybe something to do with the salt in the water , being agitated buy the heat and waves? pretty crazy stuff though. when i saw the post , i was thinking 6" or so on the beach , not 16' wall of the stuff
    oh well

  3. #3
    Whale farts.

  4. #4
    Darn, those kids and their bubble bath pranks.... but seriously, I'd say underwater volcanic activity
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
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  5. #5
    Quoting from Wikipedia: "Many biological substances, for example proteins, easily create foam on agitation and/or aeration." So I'd guess that it appears after a die-off of something like plankton or algae provides the protein/oils, and a heavy sea whips it up into a foam.
    Shrimp meringue, anyone?
    - Richard

  6. #6
    I don't know what causes sea foam but I do know that sea foam forms collodial quartz. I used to pick it up along the beach in Mexico. David is a geologist and he would tell me how all my "pretty rocks" were formed. I recall thinking that it must take a lot of sea foam to create some of the formations I saw. Now it makes more sense. Wish I could show him these pix, he'd get a kick....
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by garvey
    Whale farts.
    Good one. Looks more like shrimp farts, however. Lots of them. Seriously, in some places, the foam results from sheddings of acorn barnacles or sacabocados (animals related to shrimps that live attached to rocks). These organisms shed "skin" and fragments of themselves in the water that float to the surface. Microplanktonic assemblages also contribute to the surfactant on the surfaces. (source). Cold water swelling up from the ocean depth to the surface brings this material to the surface. Combined with heavy surf that beat this material into a foam. Foam tends to occur in certain places and times. For example, during the February-March period in Port Vallarta, much foam accumulates on the beaches (Source). Of course, oil spills and other human-contributed organics contribute to foam formation.


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