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Seafoam forms off the coast of Nova Scotia

Tuesday, December 1st 2020, 3:08 pm - Seafoam is mostly harmless, but there are some exceptions.

It was a serene scene in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, on November 30.

Check out the video above, sent to us by Sue Deschene. In it, large slabs of seafoam can be seen washed up along Roseway Beach.

WHAT IS SEAFOAM?

A better question would be: What isn't seafoam?

Seafoam is a combination of dissolved salt, proteins, fats, detergents, pollutants, and dead organic (and artificial) matter floating in the water. When the wind is strong enough to agitate the water just so, seafoam may develop, NOAA says.

The conditions that trigger the formation of the substance differ among coastal regions.

(MOSTLY) HARMLESS

While most seafoam is generally harmless, there are some exceptions. Foam that is created by decaying algal blooms, for example, can sicken animals and humans that come into direct contact with it.

Along the Gulf coast, when blooms of Karenia brevis form popping bubbles, toxins can be released into the air.

In other parts of the world, like Chennai, India, a lack of wastewater treatment means the seafoam can be very toxic, with higher concentrations of detergents and other pollutants than would be present in areas with extensive wastewater treatment programs.

But in other cases, the presence of seafoam can be indicative of a healthy marine environment, NOAA says.

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