Beach operators have revealed the mystery behind strange black patches which have appeared on Saunton Sands.

Strange black patches have appeared on Saunton Sands beach have been identified as coal.

A spokesman for Saunton Beach Enterprises, which manages the beach for Christie Estates, said they had received reports of a strange substance on the beach following the bad weather at the weekend.

The patches that appeared on Saunton Sands this week. Picture: Rowena RichardsonThe patches that appeared on Saunton Sands this week. Picture: Rowena Richardson

They said: "On closer investigation this substance was revealed to be coal. While unusual, it is normal for autumnal stormy weather to wash strange things up on the beach."

Dog walkers were also reminded to keep an eye out for substances harmful to their pets. The spokesman added: "At this time of year, dog walkers should particularly keep an eye out for solidified lumps of palm oil that are sometimes brought up on the beach by the tides.

"They are usually white or amber in colour and look like stones, but are lighter and have a waxy quality close up. If eaten, dogs can become very ill as a consequence."

It is not known how the coal came to be on the beach.