Clumps of red, slimy drift algae lining Fort Myers Beach

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson

Giant clumps of red, slimy gunk piling up on Fort Myers Beach, just in time for Spring Break.

Some people who flew hundreds of miles to relax on the beach are staying away.

“We haven’t been down to the beach too much,” said Rick Wagner, a Fort Myers Beach resident. “Just came down to see the sights.”

Rick Wagner’s son, Grant Wagner, came down to Fort Myers Beach to visit him during Spring Break, and he wanted to show his son the beauty of the island.

“The sands are beautiful and white, but here you got some gunk coming in from the Gulf,” Grant Wagner said.

The brown, soggy gunk lining the beach is called macros algae or drift algae. Researchers with the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation say the glob-like muck won’t harm beachgoers health, and it is something that happens every year.

The lumps of drift algae has washed ashore just in time for Spring Break.

“It touches you and it feels like, slimy and not fun,” said Logan Engfer, visiting for Spring Break. “Yeah, I freak out. Sometimes I think it’s a fish touching me.”

Marine scientist Doctor Rick Bartleson says the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee and low oxygen levels in the Gulf feed the drift algae.

“Anytime you’re on a dirty beach that smells or has anything on it, it’s going to reduce our pleasure of that,” Rick Wagner said.

Scientists say they aren’t worried about this particular type of algae right not, but they are still noting and recording it.

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