What is beach ‘foam’?

Image: Brocken Inaglory

Beach foam is produced from proteins. The white beach foam is due to fat and protein in ocean water, which the surf ‘whips’, just like whipped cream.

Animals and plants in both salty and fresh water constantly liberate fat and protein molecules. As waves wash up on the shore, the substances are whipped into foam.

The algal foam is produced because proteins merge into long chains or polymers. Algal protein can be harvested and used to make reusable thermoplastics.

Particularly durable foam could collect into major ‘bands’ on the beach, even fly through the air. The durability is often due to high concentrations of dead Phaeocystis algae.

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