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What Does it Mean When the Sea Turns to Foam?

This doesn't look real, but it definitely is!

Beach-goers in New South Wales, Australia got a shocking surprise when the sea suddenly turned to foam and came rushing up the sands, far past the usual high tide line. There seems to have been enough warning for everybody to make it to higher ground before the foam flood covered much of the area.  

Sea foam is said to be caused by organic matter churned up from the surf that act as foaming agents which is not inherently toxic to humans however naturally occurring sea foam tends to be in smaller patches, while these larger displays are often attributed to chemical contaminants from improper factory waste disposal which can be harmful to people and should be avoided.

Strangely, this phenomenon has been witnessed outside of the ocean and well into dry land which leads many to believe we may not have a full understanding of what the foam is and how it is created. A recent notable example showed a similar foam rolling through a parking lot like tumbleweeds, rather than the rushing water-like movement of the foam seen in this video of the sea. 

These strange foam structures are not stable and can last from hours to several days, depending on the viscosity of the surfactant.

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