In February 2014 we first told you here at Visit Fylde Coast about a white waxy substance which has been reported on shorelines pretty much all around the UK.
It's fat that's believed to be rancid palm oil - the substance itself is harmless but it's teaming in toxic bacteria and irresistible to dogs - who then quickly get ill after eating it and without immediate treatment can quickly die.
You should be keeping an eye on your dog anyway on the beach - palm oil isn't the only trouble they can get into - but if you believe they have eaten any you MUST get them to a vet STRAIGHT AWAY.
If you see any palm oil please pick it up and put it in a bin - and let us know when and where you found it.
The dreaded lumps of palm oil have started to appear on our UK beaches again. They are calling them 'fatbergs' with some of them as big as boulders.
It seems they are coming from the storms in the Caribbean and have come here courtesy of Storm Stella with the latest ones appearing recently in Newquay in Cornwall, and this weekend reported in Anglesey by Wayne Dixon, who is litterpicking around the coast of the UK with his dog Koda (below).
Christine Greenwood warns that "Both of my dogs feasted on a massive piece of palm oil this morning at 8.20am. Even the smallest piece of palm oil can kill dogs within hours.
"I walked straight to Andrew Mellor Vets from the beach and was seen very promptly. It was messy and they're both feeling very sorry for themselves but they're alive.
"Please keep your eyes peeled and if your dog eats it act quickly - it's nasty stuff."
Justine messaged Visit Cleveleys on 11 Feb 2016 to say that she'd found what she believed to be Palm Oil on the beach at Bispham.
Fortunately she'd managed to keep her dogs away - and they were later snoozing at home on the sofa after their walk.
It's been found today (7.2.16) at Cleveleys on Rossall Beach, and dog walker Jackie managed to keep her dogs away and cleared the offending substance into the bin before passing the message on so that we could alert other dog walkers.
She said "Fortunately I was just alongside the dog who discovered it and could whip it away so no harm was done.
"I broke it up to see what it was made of and it is definitely fat. You were right about the smell, my two couldn't get to it quickly enough. Just glad I was right next to them. Thanks to you all for passing the word on."
It's also been reported in recent weeks at St Annes and in the Gynn area of Blackpool. No doubt all the rough seas and high winds are washing it ashore.
We found out that it was back again over the first few days of January 2016, when reports were seen on Facebook that it was once again washing up in Cornwall, and 5 dogs were taken ill in Cornwall from eating it at Constantine Bay and Treyarnon.
HM Coastguard Fleetwood posted a day or two later on their Facebook page that it had been reported on beaches in Cumbria, to which Carol Taylor posted her photo of lumps found on Knott End Beach.
This doesn't mean keep off the beach - it means keep an eye on your dog at all times when they are on the beach and make sure they don't eat anything which they shouldn't do. Which is what you should be doing anyway as a responsible dog owner because palm oil isn't the only noxious thing which they might eat.
On Monday morning this week (27 October 2014) I personally found this piece of wax, about 10" in length, on Rossall Beach at Cleveleys, about at the end of Thornton Gate.
Please, if you walk your dog on any beaches, keep an eye on it and make sure you're aware of what they are doing (and eating - it's not the only noxious thing to be found). Keep the phone number of your local vet in your phone and if you are in any doubt ask for help.
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Through our personal interest in beaches and the environment, here at Visit Fylde Coast we originally came across this very worrying information from our friends at the Facebook page Newquay Beachcombing.
Wax found at Cleveleys and Rossall/Fleetwood
After initially publishing the story, we were first contacted by a local kite surfer who had found what he believed to be the same substance on the beach at Cleveleys some months ago - which gives the information a whole new meaning and should put Fylde Coast dog walkers on red alert.
Waxy substance found here at Cleveleys
Then we were contacted by Kevin from Fleetwood on email and he said "last summer I came across this substance on Fleetwood beach. It was a massive piece as big as a small armchair. There were other quite big pieces which floated. Me, the kids and my dog were all smashing it and the dog was playing with it.
"My dog fell ill and she stopped breathing and I left my children and ran to my vets carrying the dog. They had no idea what caused this and we nearly lost her. God knows how she pulled through but luckily she did.
"I had forgotten about this white waxy stuff as it was there for days if not weeks...the dog always had a sniff and scratch at it... there are lots of dog walker on Fleetwood beach and they need to be aware of this dangerous matter....thanks."
Other people have commented to say that it's still around, particularly on the Fleetwood beaches and Rossall areas.
What's happened in Cornwall
It would seem that a white waxy substance is washing up on the shores of Cornwall in quite big quantities. It’s believed to be rancid palm oil, the exact source is unproven but there’s a suspicion that it’s being dumped by boats at sea.
A Singaporean-registered Maersk Group tanker was recently found guilty and fined £22,500 for dumping a mixture of palm oil and tank cleaning fluid within 12 miles of Land’s End last year - leaving a slick 20 miles long. You can read the full story here.
Apparently this substance is irresistible to some dogs, who eat it with fatal consequences, to the point that it’s all over the news down there and the BBC have just announced that it’s now poisoning ‘a dog a day’ in Cornwall.
Cornwall Council received new reports of the white waxy substance – which first appeared on Cornish beaches back in October 2013 – being washed up on north coast beaches from Sennen to Porth in January 2014. The council have put up signs at beaches in the affected areas to inform beach users of the situation.
When asked whether it’s a problem isolated to the south west coast or whether we should also be raising awareness in the north west, we discovered that it’s being reported on many beaches, including the Scilly Isles, Channel Islands, Devon and Sussex, but more worryingly it’s also been reported on the west coast of Ireland (Achill) and the Isle of Man.
The substance washed up on Port Erin beach at the end of January 2014 – some of golf ball-size while other pieces were approximately one foot square and three or four inches deep – and was recovered by the coastguard. It had also been spotted on the coastline in the north of the island. You can read more here.
As Cornwall is on the south west coast, it would be wise for Fylde Coast dog walkers to be aware and vigilant on our beaches. Although no reports have been made in this area (that we know of), the Isle of Man is a bit close for comfort and it’s better to be informed and aware than learn the hard way.
These photos, with kind permission from Newquay Beachcombing, are of the substance in a solid white, waxy block, which makes it quite easy to spot, but apparently when it breaks up against the rocks and shore it breaks down into grain like particles like rice or almond slivers which then collect along the strandline – making it more difficult to see and avoid.
Immediate veterinary treatment required
The advice from our friends in Cornwall is that if you believe your dog to have eaten any of this material you should get to a vet IMMEDIATELY and ideally within 30 minutes.
The latest family pet in Cornwall had to be put to sleep after ingesting the white waxy substance on the beach, diagnosed as suffering from immune haemolytic anaemia, which the treating vet said can result from ingesting a toxin.
You can read the full story about this latest fatal incident at this link
Keep an eye on your dog at all times
Our advice to dog walkers would be to make sure that you keep an eye on your dog at all times. Just because a beach is safe from traffic doesn’t mean that it is completely safe for your dog when it is off the lead.
Speaking as a dog owner, there’s nothing better than seeing your dog enjoy themselves and run free on the sand, but they still need watching and keeping safe from unsuspecting dangers like this.
Know your nearest vet
We’d also advise you to find out where the nearest vet is to the beach where you walk and keep the number in your phone, just in case.
There is a Vets 4 Pets on Victoria Road West at Cleveleys, their number is 01253 858665, which also refers to 24 hour cover out of hours
Report any sightings
If you do see any of this substance on the Fylde Coast beaches, please report it back to us here at Visit Fylde Coast and we will refer it on to the appropriate local council as a matter of urgency.
Please text 07932 143431 or email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk
Palm oil found at Bispham by Christine Greenwood, Nov 16
Palm oil found at Bispham by Justine
Palm oil found at Cleveleys
Palm Oil found on Knott End Beach, photo by Carol Taylor via HM Coastguard Fleetwood.
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