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Great Britain

Blooming scary: runner rescued after getting stuck in cornflake seaweed on Gold Coast beach

A woman running on a Gold Coast beach has been rescued after becoming stuck in masses of cornflake seaweed that has piled up thigh-deep in places.

A seaweed expert, Pia Winberg, said the bloom of Colpomenia – also known as sea potatoes, oyster thief or cornflake seaweed – was not unusual for this time of year.

But its scale, the marine biologist said, was unprecedented. “We have not seen bigger blooms than the one you’ve got on the Gold Coast at the moment,” she said.

Videos posted on social media on Wednesday showed tourists, locals and an excited dog playing in the seaweed.

A passerby came to the aid of one local runner after she became stuck in thick seaweed that had washed up at Palm Beach.

Nine News Gold Coast (@9NewsGoldCoast)

A man and his pooch struggling through the thick seaweed that washed ashore at Palm Beach this morning.

Full details at 5.30pm. #9News pic.twitter.com/XU1bNAKSCd

Winberg said it was unclear why there was so much of the seaweed but the “spring bloom” could keep the waters murky for weeks. She said the piles on the beaches could take more than a month to decompose, and could be put to good use as a compost additive.

7NEWS Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane)

Gold Coast beaches have a new attraction but not a popular one. As the Summer holidays approach mounds of 'cornflake' seaweed have washed ashore, so deep some swimmers are getting stuck in it. https://t.co/VZ3A1cpmr5 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/a0yI5Cx1MA

“It doesn’t make sense to scrape it up and put it in a waste pile,” she said.

The seaweed was important to the natural ecology, she said, feeding marine ecosystems and increasing local fish stocks.

Gold Coast city council said it would work with the Queensland government if management of the seaweed was required.

“The city is actively monitoring the accumulation of seaweed on our beaches,” it said. “At this point in time no maintenance work is proposed to remove the seaweed.”

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