Odd sludgeon beach is ‘not oil spill’

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Trichodesmium- algal blooms which have been observed throughout waters of the Dampier Archipelago and surrounding areas.
Camera IconTrichodesmium- algal blooms which have been observed throughout waters of the Dampier Archipelago and surrounding areas.

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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