Smelly seaweed coating Volusia, Flagler beaches

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ORMOND BEACH, Fla.,None - There's an unpleasant surprise for beach-goers at Volusia County's beaches: Large amounts of seaweed are covering the entire beach.

As far as you can see down a stretch in Ormond Beach, it's loaded with this thick seaweed, and the smell is noticeable.

Strong winds have pushed tons of seaweed and its odor to the entire shoreline of Volusia and parts of Flagler county. Cars were banned from driving on the beach for most of the day Friday because of the seaweed coating the sand.

Beach-goers will have to get used to it, because the seaweed will stay there for some time. It's something even avid beach-goers said they haven't seen on the shores of Volusia County in at least 10 years.

"The wind -- when it changes offshore, it blows seaweed onto the beach and we're having a little bit more than normal wash in at this point," said Capt. Mike Berard of Volusia Beach Patrol.

Volusia Beach Patrol officials said they don't know why more seaweed has washed up than normal this time of year, but they said they're not concerned over it.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said they aren't sure what's going on either, but haven't determined if they need to come out to do any tests yet.

"They have this misconception that we just scoop it up and take it away but it doesn't work that way, it actually benefits the beach," Berard said.

The seaweed helps collect sand and build the beach back up. Plus, after about two weeks, the seaweed will break down and become nutrients for the rest of the living organisms on the beach.

In the meantime, beach-goers looking for soft sand will just have to put up with smelly seaweed. Beach patrol wants beach-goers to watch out for jellyfish, as well as debris, trash and glass in the seaweed.

If no more seaweed washes up on the sand, you can expect the beach to start looking normal in about two weeks, but authorities said they have no idea when the seaweed will be done washing up.