Seaweed cleanup on Venice Beach expected to start no later than Saturday

The direction county crews will head from Venice Beach this weekend will depend upon the clearance given by Mote Marine, as sea turtle-nesting season is under way. Photo by Norman Schimmel

Equipment problems have hampered Sarasota County workers this afternoon in their effort to start cleaning up a mix of red drift algae and seaweed on South County beaches, George Tatge, a county parks and recreation manager, told The Sarasota News Leader today, July 27.

The worst-case scenario, Tatge said, would be for workers to start on Venice Public Beach first thing Saturday morning. He hopes they will be able to move north from that point, he added, but the direction will depend upon Mote Marine.

“I want [the crews] to work north,” toward the jetty, he added.

However, because this is sea turtle-nesting season, Tatge explained, Mote representatives will have to check the beaches to make sure the use of the county’s equipment will not harm any nests or hatchlings. No cleaning would get under way except on Venice beach until he had the all-clear from Mote, he emphasized.

If the crews are able to move north on Saturday, Tatge said, they probably will head south on Monday with their cleaning efforts, “unless the tide takes [the seaweed] out” over the weekend.

So far, Tatge said, the county had not received too many calls complaining about the seaweed, but he anticipated more coming in as the day went on. That was why it was important, he said, to let residents and visitors know “we’re aware of [the situation] and we’re acting on it.”

The seaweed began showing up on county beaches about eight days ago. Crews earlier this week cleaned up the Siesta Public Beach and Lido Beach, Tatge told the News Leader.

He suspected the combination of drift algae and seagrass was a product of Tropical Storm Debby’s effects on the Gulf of Mexico, he told the News Leader July 23. The storm sat in the Gulf for several days before finally coming ashore in the northern part of the state on June 26.