Black sands

The recent stormy weather has brought patches of black sands all along the beaches.


A variegated scallop shell on the black sand

Sometimes black sands are caused by oil or coal pollution, but these black sands seem to be solely made from smashed up sea shells and their filmy black coatings. They are, in fact, just a very very thin coating on the surface of the sands.


These black sands are “clean” – they don’t smear or smell


Black sands, Penrhos Beach, Newborough

Amongst the black sands are huge numbers of intact sea shells: whelks, razors, scallops, otters, mussels, oysters… and these in turn are attracting lots of gulls and wading birds to enjoy the feast.


4 thoughts on “Black sands

  1. mike

    Yes I’ve seen this in the same location, it doesn’t seem to have the same consistency or density of sand or crushed shell though, it’s more like very finely chopped vegetation (bit like dried mixed herbs!) It’s so light I couldn’t even feel it when rubbing it in between my fingers.

    1. Kay hortographical Post author

      I thought it might be the black film that rubs off shells (like the razor shells and otter shells), but I don’t know. It is funny stuff; I don’t recall seeing so much of it in one place before.

  2. Sue Booth

    My husband says it is the anaerobic layer below the sand – deeper down there is less oxygen, and different systems – I guess if the sand is shifted greatly by the sea it will expose it. We saw some on Wednesday (23rd March) just the other side of the island, by the rocks.


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