New machine rids Sanibel of some red drift algae

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:
Machine to cleanup algae. (Credit: WINK News)
Machine to cleanup algae. (Credit: WINK News)


A member of the city said the pilot program has been temporarily paused because the conditions have drastically changed since Tuesday, and the water quality has improved.

Dorian winds moved everything north, northwest so algae that was coming to Sanibel switched direction and is headed off shore.

He says they checked almost all the beaches in Sanibel-Captiva and they couldn’t find any, so this is great news but also bad timing because they had to pause the study which is dependent on it


Sunny skies, white sand and cool water. These beaches bring people from all over the world to Sanibel.

“We love it in Sanibel,” said Wendy Reed, who is visiting. “We come out just about every year from the UK to Sanibel.”

But Reed, who is visiting from the United Kingdom, said something’s has to be done about the smell. She said it stinks like a rotten egg.

Red drift algae is to blame. Scientists said we are seeing much more of it because of last year’s red tide, which killed some of the marine life that fed on it.

The City of Sanibel is conducting a four-day study to see if they can remove the algae before it washes ashore, without hurting the marine life that depends on it.

“When you remove the algae, it can be harmful to the organisms foraging on the algae along the beach or the sea turtles,” said James Evans, director of natural resources for Sanibel. “But in the water, by removing the algae and the algae that is consuming the oxygen, it could be beneficial to the invertebrates and the fish that are swimming in those areas that need the oxygen.”

A net catches the algae and it’s raked up onto a conveyor belt where biologists from Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation sift through it. They make sure wildlife habitats are not also raked up in the process. That is potentially good news for everyone who enjoys’s Sanibel from near and far.

“To make it nice for the people who live here that’s good,” Lisa Ciancaglione said. “But for me being a vacationer, I’m happy.”

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