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Red drift algae washes up, smells up shores in Collier County

It is red, slimy and does not smell great – beachgoers are still noticing piles of red drift algae lining the shores in Collier County.

The City of Naples is making a significant effort to get rid of the red algae washing ashore as employees are raking, collecting and dumping vast amounts of it.

“The breeze was coming off of the water,” Bob Chencharik said. “The smell from the seaweed was kind of gross.”

Chencharik, a regular at Naples Beach, has lived there for over a decade. The sight and stench are new to him.

The water is loaded with the seaweed as you walk out it’s all over your feet,” Chencharik said. “Like hair. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s really gross.”

The City of Naples said while some red drift algae are common, recent storms and wind are to blame for these bigger pile-ups. The red algae come from the bottom of the Gulf and in stormy conditions, it gets loose, then comes ashore.

The city told WINK News that red drift algae pop up every year, but the overflow last weekend was the worst. Yet, it is safe to swim in the Gulf waters. But health experts recommend avoiding coming into contact with it.

“Just looks, feels gross and there’s bugs that are attached with it, so you get more flies,” said Ali Jones, a visitor. “It definitely smelled like dead fish.”

While dead fish can wash ashore with the algae, the city’s natural resource manager said, the algae is not toxic or harmful. When it decomposes it can smell and irritate people with respiratory issues.

Beachgoers said they appreciate the city removing the clumps and some seaweed will not keep most of them away.

“Nothing compares to this,” Phyllis Casoria said. “It belongs here. I mean, I don’t find it offensive. It’s part of nature.”

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