Algal Bloom near the surf zone, Fraser Island, Queensland: 6 November 2012

Not selected for Google Earth or Google Maps after a second review [?]

This ALGAL BLOOM extended almost continuously from northern Fraser Island to northern New South Wales on November 6, 2012. It attracted media attention on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast beaches.

Then on 28-30 January 2013, Tropical Cyclone Oswald created storm conditions along the coast resulting in a furious surf creating a large volume of foam that was blown onto the beaches and lifted by the wind to plaster the facades of apartment buildings. Around the world people saw footage of a car emerging from beneath the foam to the surprise of police!! I expect someone was charged with dangerous driving!

One critical factor in the creation of the foam is the presence of organic matter (including protein and lipids) derived from the breakdown of the algae.

James Acker writes, " Foams seen on sandy beaches are likely not generated in situ. More commonly, a phytoplankton (algal) bloom offshore will dissolve a large amount of organic matter in seawater, and as this water is transported onshore by winds and then agitated in the surf zone, foams will form. Speaking of contaminants, if the bloom was a "red tide", the foam could contain toxins that could become aerosols. These toxins might cause irritation and other respiratory discomfort if inhaled. This phenomenon occasionally happens along the west coast of Florida." And may I add, along the surf coasts of eastern Australia.

Ian Stehbens

Show more
Show less
Save Cancel Want to use bold, italic, links?

Comments (10)

bdeh on March 17, 2013

Great colours and shapes Ian. Greetings Berend

Tewbacka on March 18, 2013

Cloudy Bay on Bruny Island here in Tassie suffers from time to time from Algal Bloom or something very similar if its not. I can always learn something when I see your photos Ian. Very interesting. cheers Gary.

Ian Stehbens on March 18, 2013

Greetings Berend,

The purpose of this image is to reveal the algal bloom, which in normal light appears as a dusty pink colour beneath the surface. I was impressed by the extent of the bloom, as we flew south from Bundaberg crossing over Fraser Island, then following the coast.

However it wasn't until the vast volumes of foam were created by the storm in January (almost 3 months later) that I saw the significance of this photography - for the two phenomena are related.

The colours and shapes are the work of wind wave and sunlight interacting through time! I can't take credit for that, but I love the abstract design too.



Ian Stehbens on March 18, 2013

Hi Gary,

I learn too through the observation that the camera requires. I guess you have seen the foam photographs that I took in January on Mooloolaba Beach. I didn't realise the connection between my 2 photo sessions till just this week. Slow, I know, but then I am learning too.

Your Cloudy Bay phenomenon is likely to be the same as this. This is not the colour the naked eye sees because the phytoplankton is submerged in water, for here I have filtered the atmosphere and water layer so that we are able to see everything more clearly.

Cheers mate,


Fritz77 on March 20, 2013

Fascinating insight Ian. Love hearing about the way things interact and work. It is very interesting to learn from you about this part of the world. I do like the artistic value of this picture, too. Cheers, Fritz

Ian Stehbens on March 21, 2013

Greetings Fritz. I am the learner too, and having a forum such as Panoramio compels me to try to find answers to all my own questions in the first place. When this photo was taken, I didn't think ahead to anticipate the cyclone season when the coastal cities would have a frothy spa bath! But when it happened, it suddenly dawned that I had the corresponding images of the bloom. Seems like a stroke of luck!

Glad you have appreciated them.


krzymat10 on April 7, 2013

Big Like

Greetings from Poland

Ian Stehbens on April 7, 2013

Thank you krzymat10.

Greetings from Australia.


PS: I will be visiting Posen and Oborniki in early May, so I hope it has begun to warm up a bit more by then!

♫ Swissmay 2 on April 22, 2013

Dear Ian, I have been attracted by the colours and the movement of the waves in this photo and I also connected the name of Fraser Island to one of my greatest favourites on Panoramio, which I was happy to have as a wallpaper on my screen for a long time and I am going to put it up again for its cheerful colours, thank you again for uploading!

I am sorry to hear about the contamination, it only shows, that we have to be very careful to keep this beautiful world tidy and you for sure are doing a lot about it, just in telling and showing about those dangers. Thank you for your engagment!

Warmest regards,


Ian Stehbens on August 10, 2013

Dear May,

I regret that I didn't write a reply to your special comment a long time ago. I did read it at the time with real joy because of our fellowship for such a long time now, and because of the mutuality of our encouragement. Thank you for your wonderfully beautiful contributions through Panoramio accounts, for so many of us enriched by your creativity and delight.

Fraser Island is a special place and I am delighted to think that someone as far away could love its beauty and colours and fragility as much as you do.

I have just returned from some work in the Pacific and saw some more special beauty, but was saddened to see too many examples of abuse of the water and the land. If we are to be in harmony with each other we must also live in harmony with land and sea and atmosphere as well, but we are neglecting to ensure that all our relationships are in a harmony.

Warmest regards dear friend,


Sign up to comment. Sign in if you already did it.

Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 17, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens