Rabu, 23 Desember 2020

‘Apocalyptic’ sea foam overwhelms Australian beaches, bringing forth deadly sea snakes, ‘half a cow’ - OregonLive

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If you’ve ever been to an Oregon beach, you’ve seen sea foam. Not particularly memorable.

But you’ve probably never seen sea foam of the magnitude that has swept over Australia in the past week. One observer called it “something out of an otherworldly apocalyptic movie.”

That’s not just because it’s so thick that beachcombers can’t see a beachball or boulder right next to them. There are snakes in the foam.

Venomous sea snakes.

Don’t worry, the Marine Education Society of Australasia says: the risk of dying from a sea-snake bite is low -- if you get a dose of antivenom, that is. (Australians are used to such dangers, of course. Author Bill Bryson warned in a 2000 travelogue: “Of the world’s 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian.”)

Is this foamy fog the latest example of 2020 being the end of the world?

That’s a philosophical question, but what we do know for sure is that severe storms hit New South Wales and Queensland, pushing the pillowy, swirling foam -- and venomous sea snakes -- onto land. A reporter for tech-and-science website Boing Boing described the foam as “a churning concoction of seawater, algae, salts, fats and other pollutants, deep enough for a dog to get lost in.” A foam witness on Twitter offered: “so this ain’t sea foam. It’s shaving cream.”

Australian officials warned people to resist the urge to play in the foam -- and not just because of the snakes. The storms tossed a lot of debris into the mix.

“There’s been trees and things like that have washed up,” Surf Lifesaving Australia supervisor Nathan Fife told The Guardian newspaper. “I think there was half a cow that washed up at the beach yesterday, so make sure what’s in front of you. There are trees and logs floating around, so please be careful.”

The sea foam has its risks, but glass-is-half-full Australians surely see it as an improvement. Last year at this time the country was being pummeled by massive wildfires that a scientific report has called “one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.”

-- Douglas Perry

dperry@oregonian.com

@douglasmperry

The Link Lonk


December 23, 2020 at 10:40PM
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‘Apocalyptic’ sea foam overwhelms Australian beaches, bringing forth deadly sea snakes, ‘half a cow’ - OregonLive

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