Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 2, 2012

Red seaweed storms New England beaches

GLOUCESTER, Mass. – Red seaweed – unflatteringly described as “the guest that never left” – is piling up on some beaches from Cape Cod to Gloucester.

What’s frustrating to local officials is there’s not much they can do about it.

The thick, woolly, fibrous red seaweed has covered nearby beaches in recent weeks, releasing a sulfuric stench as it rots.

Manchester's Department of Public Works had tried cleaning the clingy seaweed off the town's beaches, but it soon returned, department director Steven Kenney said.

"It's like the nemesis," Kenney said. "It's the guest that never left."

The seawood first hit Cape Ann and rose over Rockport's beaches earlier this month. There, work crews used machinery to remove the weeds from Front Beach.

But "a week later, you'd never know we were there," Kenney said.

Workers found the smell from the rotting seaweed unbearable.

"It's to the point where you can't physically breathe the air. It hurts your eyes. It hurts your lungs," Kenney said.

The invasive seaweed so-called "Heterosiphonia japonica," is a weed that scientists believe may have come via Japanese fishing boats.

But David Pierce, deputy director of the state's Division of Marine Fisheries, said nothing has been proven about the plants' origin.

Officials are speculating that tourism rates could drop, but some of the beaches have not been attacked by the powerful weed yet.

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Details for this story were provided by the Gloucester (Mass.) Times

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