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Don't be alarmed - the stuff that looks like toilet paper and thick, dark soup slopping around in the waves at Waipu Cove is not a  sewage spill.
That is the message Whangarei District Council is eager to get across to members of the public who might mistake what is a carpet of algae for something more sinister.
The "bloom"  was near the mouth of the stream opening on to the popular beach, council communications manager Ann Midson said.
"We get a lot of calls about this sort of thing and unfortunately sometimes, yes, it is a spill," Ms Midson said.
"We're very relieved to be able to say this is not  sewage."
The foul-looking stuff is harmless rotted algae, or seaweed, a large amount of which has washed up on Northland beaches at times this summer.
High tides and easterly winds have pushed the drying algae up creeks, leaving the matter stranded drying on the banks.
The dead algae pictured has been washed back downstream and along the beach after recent rain.
Council wastewater engineer Andrew Carvell said staff had received a number of calls this summer about what appeared to be sewage on local beaches but which had been seaweed and algal matter.