Mystery of ‘rotting fish’ smell in Bexhill solved

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News

The mystery surrounding a strange smell in Bexhill has been solved.

Residents in the town have been complaining about the pong emanating from the beach, likening it to the smell of ‘rotting fish’.

They said the bad smell has been around for several weeks.

Resident Terrence Johns said: “One of the worst areas affected is the South Cliff beaches, which have a thick layer of black grey sludge.

“I was told it’s an annual occurrence caused by the formation of algae in the channel. The big difference this time is the calm sea after the storms, which has allowed the algae to come ashore. Normally it would have been broken up by the action of the waves.

“The smell, which is like rotting fish, is most noticeable when you get the low mist at night. It can be smelt by residents some distance from the sea. It’s a particular hazard for swimmers and dog walkers along the beach as it’s a sticky black/grey slime especially when the tide is out.”

Ed Schmidt, environment management team leader for the Environment Agency, said: “We’ve received lots of reports about this from people but the algae, known as phaeocystis, is a natural phenomenon. It’s the start of the summer, the sun is out and the sea is warming up so the areas become nutrient rich, leading to the algae appearing. Because we’ve had such warm weather recently the algae has bloomed across the south coast, not just in Bexhill.

“We’ve not had any storms so the seas have been still as well. There is no risk of harm to humans nor animals.

“Because there has been a change in weather and a drop in temperatures the algae has begun to break down. When it does it turns dark and can look like sewage.”