Whipped into a frothy fare-thee-well by Cyclone Oswald, the sea off eastern Australia foamed up and invaded several beaches and coastal towns on January 28.
Beachgoers frolicked in the foamy waves, but so did those a tad inland, as the foam swept up into the streets, engulfing everything from cars to people in the towns of Alexandra Headland and Mooloolaba. The stuff is what results when stormy seas combine with what some media reports called “organic material,” infusing it with air and converting it to sticky, brown-tinged foam.
The region, which juts out slightly into the Coral and Tasman seas (on the other side of New Zealand from the South Pacific), is known as Australia’s Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast near where New South Wales meets Queensland.
It wasn’t Australia’s first run in with sea foam by any means. Last June body surfers enjoyed these foam waves washing up on Yamba, in New South Wales, and in 2007 and 2008 the same town experienced an overabundance of sea foam.
But it’s not all fun and frolic. The sticky stuff can contain sewage as well as toxic material and pollutants, warned a toxicologist, University of Queensland Associate Professor Barry Noller. TheSunshine Coast Daily reported that vacationers had “complained of itching and stinging” after playing in the foam, and that “beachgoers have found animals and reptiles in the area covered in foam and looking unwell.”
Meanwhile the fluffy stuff flew around like cotton candy, generating much amusement, a near-miss and a memorable photo or two. Check out the flirty suds in the videos below.