Red Drift Algae Lands on FMB

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Safe, but Smelly

Beachgoers this week found a broad deposit of red drift algae along the shoreline and underwater along the shore. Not to be confused with Red Tide, red drift algae are not harmful and are non-toxic, but can smell bad as they decompose.

According to Mote Marine Laboratory, red drift algae can vary in color and occur naturally in the Gulf. They sometimes detach from the bottom and can wash up along beaches. They are called macroalgae because they can be seen without the aid of a microscope.

The connection between nutrient pollution and red drift algae is under investigation. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Caloosahatchee & Estuary Report for March 26, 2019 said, “Red Tide impacts on algae grazers and nutrients from lake releases and runoff from the Caloosahatchee are likely contributing to the increase in algal biomass.”

Town crews have been out cleaning the beach this week and will continue to do so as needed, according to Town Manager Roger Hernstadt.