POINT LOOKOUT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It was a perfect beach day, but in parts of Nassau County’s South Shore, seaweed has been keeping swimmers out of the water.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, experts have blamed the recent bloom on too much nitrogen in the water.
The sign at the entrance of Point Lookout town park is a warning, but nothing quite prepares beachgoers for what they’re about to run into.
“It smells, it’s terrible to go in. The walking on the beach is not pleasurable,” one man said.
Brave swimmers said they’ve become entangled, others went around the green, slimy mounds.
“It gets in places I wouldn’t want. I wish it weren’t there,” one swimmer said.
Regulars said it’s been this way for weeks, slimy marine algae has been found up and down Nassau County’s western ocean beaches.
Town of Hempstead crews have been working every morning to clean up, but as waves lapped with seaweed, mothers stealing away some quiet time said they didn’t expect the sea air would stink.
“Very disgusting, not something you look forward to coming to the beach for,” one woman said.
Marine biologists from Stony Brook University blamed the nearby Bay Park Sewage treatment plant — treated waste expelled into the bay causes seaweed to grow out of control, and it’s not just a nuisance.
“These things are harmful to marine life, particularly early life stages of shellfish, and we also know when they get up on the beach and begin to rot, they can release sulfite fumes that can be an irritant to eyes and lungs,” Dr. Chris Gobler, Stony Brook University said.
Nassau County Officials also blamed old home septic systems and storm runoff which contribute to nitrogen pollution.
“I’m 70-years-old. I came here when I was 12 and there was seaweed, and that plant wasn’t here, so I think it’s quite normal,” one man said.
The question remains, to swim, or not to swim?
“It’s a little gross, and my kids weren’t sure about wanting to swim,” one woman said.
Long term fixes are coming to the sewage plant to reduce nitrogen. Until then, the experts say, consider this an annual part of the beach experience.
A long term project is underway to divert treated sewage to an ocean fallout pipe. Nassau county officials said they could completely remove nitrogen from the affected bays.