No, the Port Jackson water sprites haven't set up a beauty salon for local mermaids. This hair-like material growing at Yurong Point in Port Jackson is in fact a brown alga called Acinetospora crinita
Dr Skinner said A. crinita
is quite common in temperate parts of the Pacific and other oceans.
"Brown algal blooms are not uncommon in spring, especially after a flush of nutrients following sudden, heavy rain," said Dr Skinner.
"This time the interwoven filaments have provided an interesting oddity. It may very well vanish as suddenly as it has appeared," said Dr Skinner.
Algae have been estimated to include anything from 30,000 to more than 1 million species (Guiry, 2012). While some algal blooms can cause problems, A. crinita
and other algae are important as they form the basis of marine food webs and produce oxygen.
can be something of an eyesore and it really isn’t much fun body surfing in brown cotton wool, but apart form that it's not a cause for any concern here," said Dr Skinner.