Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront

Sea Foam on Cleveleys Seafront

Every so often, when the conditions are just right, see the spectacular sight of sea foam on Cleveleys seafront. It varies from a few blobs, to a quivering mass several feet deep…

Caught in the Sea Foam on Cleveleys Seafront!

We try to avoid getting a splattering by sea foam – it makes such a mess on your clothes! However, on this Monday morning in November we were out with our beach cleaning friends and suitably dressed to enjoy it.

It was obvious that the Rossall Beach Group couldn’t carry out their regular scheduled clean up. But we were outside and dressed for the weather, so we decided to go for a walk instead. Until we got stopped in our tracks by the high tide and caught in the sea foam! So we turned round and shuffled back to The Venue for a warm brew. Good fun, nonetheless!

YouTube video

If you’ve enjoyed this video, why don’t you subscribe to the Visit Fylde Coast YouTube channel?

Here’s a couple more photos from that sunny, windy, foamy morning –

Windy weather whipping the sea up into froth
Windy weather whipping the sea up into froth
Making lots of sea foam on Cleveleys seafront, near to Rossall School
Making lots of sea foam on Cleveleys seafront, near to Rossall School

Five Minutes of Fame for Cleveleys Sea Foam!

A documentary production company based in Australia contacted Visit Fylde Coast. Making an international TV series called Impossible Planet, they asked if they could include some of our footage.

One of their episodes covers the incredible natural phenomenon of sea foam which we frequently see here on the Fylde Coast. This clip is from November 2019 –

YouTube video

If you’ve enjoyed this video, why don’t you subscribe to the Visit Fylde Coast YouTube channel?

The producer says “we aim to showcase how incredible the planet really is and the people who interact with it. All our stories are about encapsulating the heart of these stories with the help of those (like yourself) who are closest to the phenomena and history of the land. We want audiences to be left with awe and appreciation for the amazing phenomena and cultures we’re fortunate enough to have on Earth.”

Impossible Planet is a 4k 12 x 1hr factual series on our incredible planet and the natural phenomena it can generate. Cleveleys goes global!

More Sea Foam on Cleveleys Seafront

These photos and video are from Friday 13 November, 2015. An apt day for the foam to fly at Cleveleys! Similar incidents happen fairly frequently, a few times a year. One of the best vantage points to see this sight is at Rossall Beach, between The Venue and Rossall School.

This particular event was as a result of winds on the back end of the UK’s first named weather event, Storm Abigail. She certainly made for windy conditions here in Cleveleys and on the wider Fylde Coast.

High tide was around noon. This video was made around 11.30am and the foam is already several feet deep.

YouTube video

If you’ve enjoyed this video, why don’t you subscribe to the Visit Fylde Coast YouTube channel?

When it gets like this it always carries on until several hours later. Once the tide has gone out the foam eventually collapses.

This second clip (below) was taken at about 1.30pm, a good hour and a half after high tide.

YouTube video

If you’ve enjoyed this video, why don’t you subscribe to the Visit Fylde Coast YouTube channel?

What Causes Sea Foam on Cleveleys Seafront?

Algae, that’s seaweed and smaller microscopic plants, dissolves in the seawater when it breaks down and decomposes.

Did you know? Seaweed contains ‘alginate’ and is often used as a thickener in food and medicines.

In the water, the decaying algae gel holds air bubbles in shape as they’re frothed up by the wind and strong waves. The foam gets thick and, because it’s light, it blows like snowballs.

The ‘snowballs’ build up on the beach, paths, promenade and road. It’s quite a sight to see. This particular incident of sea foam on Cleveleys seafront made most of the national news and weather channels, including the BBC News at 6pm.

Where does the algae come from?

Microscopic plant and animal life is the vital element at the very bottom of the food chain, and naturally exists in huge numbers in all large bodies of water.

After heavy rainfall the level of nutrients in the sea increases as it washes off the land. The nutrients and dissolved organic matter act cause the algae to bloom (grow) and act as a foaming agent. Have you noticed that more foam and scum forms along the edge of the tide after heavy rainfall?

Wind usually accompanies stormy, rainy weather and it creates turbulent sea with lots of waves. More bubbles are formed and they hold their shape because of the decaying algae. Together these two factors mean that lots and lots of foam builds up. Because it’s light it easily gets blown around.

Once the bubbles collapse they continue to breakdown onshore (unless a good downpour follows!). This can create an unpleasant slime, which sometimes smells similar to sewage. That’s sulphur compounds being released by the decomposing algae.

When it dries it leaves behind a salty and sandy residue. It only washes off with heavy rain. Cars, clothes and windows all need a good washing afterwards!

Dirt from seafoam on Cleveleys seafront
Dirt from seafoam on Cleveleys seafront

Analysed and checked

Foam samples have been analysed in the past by the Environment Agency. Found not to be harmful, the samples contained dead algal matter and no evidence of pollution. The sea foam is nothing to do with pollution or detergents, as confirmed by the Environment Agency tests.

More Sea Foam on Cleveleys Seafront

Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront doesn’t just happen in winter. If the right combination of conditions is present it can happen at any time of the year.

The clip below was filmed at high tide on 2 June in 2015. You can see the shivering mass gathering on the beach and then the wind blows the blobs about, just like snowballs!

YouTube video

If you’ve enjoyed this video, why don’t you subscribe to the Visit Fylde Coast YouTube channel?

The next clip was filmed in December – from the warmth of the car!

You can see how the blobs of froth are blown off the beach, and because they hold their shape they can mount up into drifts which can be several feet deep. Have a look at the great photos on this page of our very own strange-but-true Cleveleys snow.

YouTube video

If you’ve enjoyed this video, why don’t you subscribe to the Visit Fylde Coast YouTube channel?

Anniversary of the Sinking of Riverdance

Ironically, on the fifth anniversary of the sinking of the Riverdance Ferry (31 January 2013), storms blew with gusts about as strong as they get.

High tide at lunch time on 30th and 31st created a spectacle for all to see.

Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront
Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront

As the tide comes in, the high white waves bash against the shore, and mechanical agitation froths up the surface to create foam. The foam creates a bigger and bigger mass that starts to blow about in the wind. The first sign is little snowball like blobs that fly high, followed by more and more and more…

Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront
Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront

As the tide comes in the beach gets smaller. The froth is pushed off the beach onto the promenade pathway. The footpath soon becomes totally impassable with dense, deep, white quivering foam. The mass builds up so that it starts to blow over the top of the rear flood wall, and then it collects on the road and main promenade.

Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront
Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront

It’s quite a sight. It looks very strange, just like snow, and it’s a fascinating weather event to see.

Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront
Sea foam on Cleveleys seafront

Understandably, it draws sightseers every time that it happens. But expect to clean your car and wash your clothes if you get caught in it! When the residue dries it’s full of sand and salt.

Come to Cleveleys to see Sea Foam – the Eighth Wonder of the World!

A friend videoed Cleveleys Sea Foam and his clip (see it here) appeared on both Granada and BBC News.

By the time the story had run its course, photos and video had gone viral on YouTube, and on websites all around the world, including these that we know of:

Washington Post
NBC News
Accuweather.com
Metro
I4U News
Daily Mirror
The Huffington Post
The Telegraph
Powerful Storms
The Guardian
Geography Blog
Travel AOL

Photos of Sea Foam on Cleveleys Seafront

It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, you can’t help but take a photo! Have a look at some of the sights from various years in this gallery.

While you’re here…

Have a look at the homepage of the Visit Cleveleys website for more of the latest updates.

Love the Fylde Coast? Sign up for your weekly email newsletter. Packed full of interesting things it arrives in your inbox all 52 weeks of the year.

Join us on Facebook at our Visit Fylde Coast Facebook Group

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @visitFyldeCoast

What do you think? Leave a comment

Share on

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Recent

Recent Updates from Local Businesses

Scroll to Top