The Brighton & Hove Seafront Team has recently reported receiving an annual influx of inquiries about marine algae and sewage at their Seafront Office. Marine algae, which consist of seaweeds and microscopic plants called phytoplankton, are known to form blooms when conditions for growth are ideal, typically after the vernal equinox on March 20th, 2023. As the days get longer, these organisms begin to photosynthesize and produce oxygen.
It is worth noting that blooms of toxic algae are rare in English coastal waters. However, some non-toxic blooms can often be mistaken for sewage pollution. The most common bloom-forming algae in English coastal waters produces a brown, frothy scum that can be blown onto the shore during southerly winds. Eventually, this scum breaks down into an unpleasant brown slime that smells similar to compost. While this may be mistaken for sewage, it is not actually sewage.
Despite the concerns and inquiries received by the Seafront Team, it is important to remember that non-toxic algae blooms are a natural occurrence and play an important role in the marine ecosystem. As environmental conditions prevail, these blooms eventually disappear.