A certain marine phenomenon caused a tragedy on the beach at Scheveningen in the Netherlands. This is the sea foam that killed five surfers. The Royal Netherlands Maritime Rescue Organization (KNRM) found that it reached a height of more than one meter. The weather conditions made rescue difficult. "The conditions of strong winds and high waves also made the task difficult," said a statement. A helicopter was even used in the search.
The police, fire brigade, coast guard and other authorities participated in the rescue. After all, they could only save four bodies. The fifth, though discovered, was swallowed up by the water. The accident caused unusual signs of grief in the population of The Hague, the city where the beach is located. The city's mayor, Johan Remkes, described the events as "terrible tragedy".
How is this high foam created?
It is not the first time this year that high levels of sea foam have been reported in Europe. Last January, a dense layer flooded the streets of Tossa de Mar's old town in Catalonia, Spain. The researchers announced that they would be studying the latest phenomenon. We take samples. We are investigating the conditions under which such a thick layer of foam could form, "they said.
Exclusive video of Tossa de Mar. The Veritat l & # 39; escuma aquesta no fa gaire gràcia. pic.twitter.com/1hkGDEWIhh
– JOAN JORDANA (@jordana_joan) January 21, 2020
The foam concentrated off the coast comes from an algae species that generally lives in the waters of the North Sea. The algae bloom in spring. At the end of the flowering period, the cells disintegrate and a similar residual material is released. Moved by the wind and the waves, it forms this foam that floats in the water.
According to KNRM, a strong north wind blew in the afternoon of the accident. He could help increase the foam content. There is a study by the University of Vienna (Austria) that was published in the journal Water research. He says the phenomenon can occur in almost any natural body of water when the circumstances arise.
Like a virus
Below, they indicate environmental conditions such as temperature or the amount of algae. It also affects the effects of strong winds or storms that move the water to create the foam. Another expert, Tjisse van der Heide, said that under these conditions, algae can produce "large" amounts of foam.
«The sea is very nutritious in winter. When the light comes with spring, the algae explode like a virus. That clearly happened here, "he said. However, the presence of algae in the region is now lower than in the 1980s. Algae growth is promoted by agricultural residues (liquid manure, phosphate and nitrogen) that are flushed into the sea by rivers.
One of the questions that remains to be answered is how the foam could have affected surfers' deaths. One of the hypotheses is due to the height reached; it could have disoriented it by restricting its visibility. The sea foam that killed five surfers could also have suffocated them, so that a hypothesis is not yet excluded.