Sea Balls on Sardinian Shore

August 13, 2009

20090813 - Sea Balls on Sardinian Shore

Eberhard Frank
Summary Author: Eberhard Frank, Jim Foster

The photo above shows a grouping of odd sea balls on a beach at Costa Smeralda, Sardinia (Italy). Costa Smeralda, which means Emerald Coast in English, is named for the outstanding aquamarine color of the coastal waters and has a reputation of being a playground for the well-to-do during the summer season. When we visited during the off-season there were few tourists to contend with and we walked the beaches at our leisure. Sea balls tend to form in swells (long-wavelength surface waves) that run up on flat beaches. They're composed of fibers of seagrass and create a material similar in texture to rough felt. Wind and the tide push them together, and in places, they can accumulate in huge numbers along the Sardinia shore. These rather exotic balls are swept away, by the sea or by machines, long before the finicky tourists return. Photo taken on March 23, 2009.