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Information About the Sea


General Infromation About the Sea

About the beach 
The beach at Brighton consists of a sloping shingle bank, with a level area of sand exposed or covered with shallow water at low tide. At high tide, the sea can be deep just a couple of metres off-shore. Children who cannot swim should be kept away until near the time of low tide. The shape of the beach can change from one day to the next.
Buoying and lifeguard arrangements 
Organised by Brighton and Hove Council, these are currently under review. From mid-May to early September, there are designated bathing areas, with supervision by qualified lifeguards from about 11.00am to 6.00pm. When the lifeguards are on duty, a red and yellow flag is flown, and a red danger 'no bathing' flag if the sea is considered too rough.
How clean is the sea? 
The short answer is that the sea is clean enough most of the time, but not as clean as it ought to be. Brighton and Hove beaches have never come up to the standard required to qualify for a Blue Flag, but this is partly due to the quality of amenities on the sea front generally, as becomes clear when Brighton is compared with a Blue Flag resort .
Sewage from Brighton and Hove is discharged a mile offshore from the Portobello outfall at Telscombe. Dilution and the effect of sunlight should destroy harmful bacteria and prevent pollution of the sea at Brighton. To satisfy EU Directives, Southern Water is currently trying to find a site for a treatment works but this has proved problematic.
Since the late 1990s, polluted storm water overflows have been diverted to a £50 million storm relief tunnel constructed in the 1990s, running from Hove Street to Black Rock; it is stored and pumped to Portobello outfall. This is meant to be able to cope with up to a 50 year storm but in practice is has failed to cope a couple of times since it came into use; this happened after exceptionally heavy summer storms, but the problem was obvious, and it is probably true to say that the sea off Brighton is cleaner than it has been for at least the past two centuries. None of the regular bathers has caught any infection due to the sea since the collector tunnel came into use.
Sea temperature 
The sea temperature ranges from 5°C (41°F) at the coldest time of the year, at the end of January, to about 20°C (68°F) at the hottest, in mid-August.
The rising tide flows up the Channel from the west, therefore on the flood (rising) tide, the current runs from west to east (Hove to Brighton). About 90 minutes before the time of high water, the flow reverses and runs east to west until about an hour before low tide, when the eastward flow resumes. However, the wind also has an effect and the current may be delayed or cancelled out altogether. There are variations close inshore, especially close to the piers and groynes.
Weaver Fish 
A hazard to paddlers at low tide, weaver fish bury themselves in the sand and can cause a painful sting if trodden on. To avoid the risk, wear footwear. The cure for a weaver fish sting is to place the foot (or hand) as soon as possible in very hot water (as hot as bearable). Heat destroys the toxin and the pain will subside after a few minutes.
Underwater obstructions 
Some of the groynes are in poor condition and have been breaking up in stormy weather, leaving concrete blocks on the beach.
Medical Conditions 
Bathing in cold water can be dangerous, and made ever more so if you have epilepsy, heart disease or high blood pressure. Seek medical advice.