Odd sludge on beach is ‘not oil spill’

North West Telegraph - - News - Tay­lar Amonini

Hed­land res­i­dents have been as­sured there is no oil spill at the Port Hed­land port af­ter beach­go­ers no­ticed a sludge-like sub­stance in the wa­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pil­bara Port Author­ity the sub­stance is an oc­cur­rence of a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring al­gae called tri­chodesmium.

A spokes­woman said the al­gae was com­monly seen in the coastal waters of north-west Aus­tralia as wa­ter tem­per­a­tures in­creased.

“The blooms can look like yel­low-brown saw­dust float­ing on the wa­ter’s sur­face and they smell like rot­ting plant ma­te­rial,” she said.

“When tri­chodesmium lands on beaches in coastal ar­eas of PPA’s ports and starts to de­com­pose it can have many dif­fer­ent colours — green to pur­ple, rust reds to pure black.

“By com­par­i­son, oil slicks have no ob­serv­able par­ti­cles and form films with rain­bow swirls, they re-from quickly af­ter be­ing dis­turbed and will stick to ob­jects.”

The spokes­woman en­cour­aged res­i­dents to con­tact the port author­ity’s ves­sel traf­fic ser­vices straight away if they saw some­thing and were un­sure whether it was oil or al­gae.

The port author­ity’s ves­sel traf­fic ser­vices can be con­tacted on 9173 9030 or VHF 12 and 16.

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