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Sludge on beach a natural occurence

Monday, 20 June 2011 2:10 p.m.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council confirm that recent findings of foam and sludge on the Eastern Bay of Plenty coastline is a natural occurrence of surf diatoms. Testing has confirmed the sludge is not associated with the discharge of dairy farm effluent, as had been suggested. 

Surf diatoms are a type of ocean plant called phytoplankton. They are common in shallow water and particularly in the surf. An abundance of surf diatoms indicates a healthy habitat and they are the main source of food for productive shellfish beds in the surf.

Pollution Prevention Team Leader Steve Pickles said that recent dominance of on-shore weather has contributed to the build-up of surf diatoms on Tirohanga and Hikuwai beaches.

"It has definitely become worse recently with the stormy weather; surf is stirred up more and the scum is washed up. We get the same occurrence most years with changing weather patterns" Mr Pickles said.

Although sometimes unsightly, the build-up of surf diatoms are non-toxic and are a natural occurrence on eastern bay beaches.


For further media information please contact Communications Advisor, Clare Dowthwaite on 0800 884 881 Ext 8148 or 021 989 666.

Beach Sludge lowres