It's Foam, but not as we know it...

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

The word of the day is Eutrophication.

No, it is not the name of a punk band, but rather it’s something we are doing to our rivers, lochs and oceans.

Sea foam
Do not add to hot milk!

Specifically, it’s human activity ‘feeding’ algae. These organisms sit in our waters waiting patiently for all the waste from fish farms, nitrates and phosphates from land use and topping it all off with human sewage.


What sewage looks like to algae...
So, that'll be one Nitrate Lite with Sewage to go please...

This allows the wee plants to quite literally ‘bloom’ and some of them are quite toxic, affecting shellfish and other aquatic creatures. When the algae die, these organisms can get mashed up in the surf, especially during winter storms, mixing with all the other pollutants we shed, and causing a white-ish foam which sticks serenely to everything in touches.

This video from Aberdeen in 2012 illustrates the point.

Yeah, so what’s the point of me knowing all this, you may ask?

Sea foam, as it is rather pleasantly called, is a visible symptom of all the nasties we are draining into our beautiful waters in Western Scotland. Algal blooms remove oxygen from fish (which they actually need to stay alive) and the foam produced (because it’s a horrible mixture of man-made pollutants including detergents from our washing machines) has a distressing habit of removing the waterproofing from birds’ feathers. This results in the poor things freezing to death:

This is a poor bird covered in oil. Detergents in the water can be as devastating.
If the oil doesn't kill it, de-oiling will...

Imagine wearing a coat soaked in cold water and then living outside in a winter storm...

Do not be fobbed off by reports that this stuff is ‘harmless’ – it is far from harmless.

The very short piece by Marine Scotland talks serenely of 'organic matter' but this does include all those pollutants!

So what can we do about this? Isn’t this just another environmental problem that we need to blame on big corporations? Well, yes. And no.

Because, you see we are all partly to blame; every time we wash up a cup or our clothes we are pumping a bit more of the foam-enhancing chemicals out into our lochs and ultimately into the sea, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start to act!

please send me your environmental journals
Sea foam near Campbeltown

©2020 Nick MacIneskar