Environment Agency Wales officers investigating reports of raw sewage and oil affecting some beaches in Wales have confirmed that it is in fact algae.

Over the last few weeks, officers have received reports from beaches between Porthcawl and Aberavon and as far west as Tenby. Algae has also been seen in north Wales near Aberdyfi, the Mawddach Estuary and the Menai Strait.

Officers have collected samples and analysis has confirmed that the species of algae found were chaetoceros and phaeocystis.

The recent warm weather, coupled with nutrients in the water, has caused foam to appear on the surface of the sea. In other cases, the algae has died causing a brown, lumpy material to be deposited on the beach.

The algae is not dangerous but could cause a mild skin irritation if people come into contact with it. It should not be swallowed and actions should be taken to avoid any contact with algae.

With more warm weather forecast over the summer, the agency is expecting more outbreaks of algae along the coast.

Agency officers who carry out routine monitoring of coastal waters and rivers will be collecting samples if they suspect algae is present at any site.

A spokesperson from Environment Agency Wales said: "While the algae is not known to be toxic to people, it is not very pleasant to look at. We are getting an increasing number of calls from people who are concerned as it does look like pollution.

"We can assure them that it is a natural phenomenon but we are glad that people are taking such an active interest in their environment and reporting problems to us.

"Water quality at bathing water beaches is better than ever and we want to make it clear that these slicks are not pollution."

Any slicks which may not be algae should be reported to Environment Agency Wales' free 24 hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60.