‘Smelly’ seaweed drives away beachgoers from Hutchinson Island

Published: Jul. 30, 2022 at 9:40 PM EDT
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People in Fort Pierce are calling for changes after large amounts of seaweed have taken over the beach in areas like Hutchinson Island, causing quite the stench.

"I would say it smells like dead fish and crabs," said Jessie Rudd who was leaving the beach because of seaweed smell.

Near the jetty, the sight and smell of the decaying seaweed forced people to cancel their beach plans.

"People who come to visit, I have family coming they're not gonna want to be here, they're not going to think its very nice. They're gonna come and leave right away," said Nicole Eckerson, who is upset by the buildup of seaweed.

"Its gross. It's all hard and dark and crusty looking. And you can tell it's been sitting there for a long time," said Eckerson. "It just smells so bad nobody wants to hang around."

The seaweed is pretty thick, and Eckerson said it's been piling up for over a month now - driving away beachgoers as well as business from beachside restaurants.

"Oh you can smell it from the bridge you can smell it from a mile away," Marty Zonkoski the general manager of Sunrise Sands Beach Resort.

Zonkoski says the resort is 150 feet from the water and that the seaweed is a seasonal issue.

"It stinks it's messy it's all over the place, people don't like it touching them but what are you going to do?" said Zonkoski.

Coastal engineers say that there's no protocol on when to clean the seaweed, the only plan is to wait for it to wash away.

"Go offshore and you'll see patches as big as this county and it's coming this way," said Zonkoski. "If you're gonna come to the beach and you can't be at the beach come see me, I'll at least get you a drink and some food."

Researchers with FAU Harbor Branch tell WPTV that an increase in nitrogen in the water has created larger production of seaweed down the Florida coast over the last few years.

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