An ugly and smelly gunk is found floating in the water, and the sight makes neighbors afraid to even go near the water.
The mats were found between Coconut Island and Tigertail Beach in Marco Island.
The gunk has a foul oder and appearance. Collier Couty’s waterkeeper told WINK News the sludge is worth testing. It could either be totally innocent, which is the hope, but the waterkeeper can’t rule out the possibility of it being a harmful form of cyanobacteria.
“It seemed like it was like a ball of sand. it kind of looked like papier mâché because as boats were going by, I think the propellers were hitting it. And then they were like, kind of like disintegrating,” Ganine Montgomery, the woman who found the gunk, said.
WINK News spoke with the Collier County waterkeeper, KC Schulberg, about the gunk.
“It looked kind of like a variety of cyanobacteria called Lyngbya, which is highly toxic and dangerous to humans,” Schulberg said.
Schulberg explained the culprit could be the dredging project that started on Tigertail Nov. 2022, and is still ongoing. Dredging could stir-up sediments and nutrients fueling cyanobacteria growth.
“Typically, if there’s something that is undesirable that happens as a result of dredging, they should stop the dredging and investigate what the cause of these mats are. I think it’s worth exploring further to see whether it is cyanobacteria or whether it’s just kind of innocent seafoam,” Schulberg said.
Schulberg told WINK News that scientists will look at the mats under a microscope next week. And until we have answers to, stay out of the water if you see the gunk.
“Err on the side of caution and not go in the water,” Schulberg said.
If the mats are proven to be lyngbya, Schulberg told WINK News, it’s a new battle. The bacteria is extremely difficult to get rid of, and once it takes hold, can spread.