The build-up of stinky seaweed on Chapel Beach has been an issue for years but the combination of hot weather, high tides and a summer storm have been blamed for making the problem much worse.
Port St Mary Commissioners wanted to clear away at least some of the seaweed but was having problems finding anywhere to take it, amid reports that the seaweed contains dead birds, possibly the victims of avian flu.
Then on Monday this week, a contractor’s tractor moved in to push the bank of seaweed further out into the bay to allow the tide to take it out.
Residents had taken to social media claiming that MGP visitors had been deterred from stopping off in the village and children had complained of finding maggots on the beach.
An online petition was started calling for Port St Mary Commissioners to clean up the beach.
It stated: ‘The people of Port St Mary are fed up! Due to a particularly hot summer and a build up of seaweed that hasn’t cleared itself, the entire village now smells like rotting seaweed.
‘Besides the smell there are flies and maggots.
‘Some businesses are claiming to have lost out on summer visitors as a result of the build up of rotting seaweed.
‘We are not asking for a sterile beach with no seaweed. We are asking for a safe and pleasant environment for us all to enjoy the beach locally and not deter visitors who want to come down for the day.’
One resident who backed the petition said: ‘The smell and health hazard from all the flies is getting serious. It totally makes you feel sick with the smell hanging around all day.’
Another posted: ‘The stench is awful.’
In a media release in January announcing a 9% increase in rates, Port St Mary Commissioners said that increasing the cleaning of Chapel Beach was one of the projects that would take place during the financial year. The Commissioners have been approached for a comment.
Rushen MHK Michelle Haywood, who is director of Discover Diving in the village, said there had been a delay in clearing the beach while a contractor awaited a replacement part for a tractor attachment.
And she said there had been the issue of where the seaweed could be taken if removed, Given that it may contain dead birds, farmers will not want to take it and it can’t go to the civic amenity site and the Energy from Waste plant either, she explained.
Dr Haywood said: ‘The seaweed on the beach is the consequence of a number of factors.
‘Firstly we had Storm Betty which ripped the seaweed off the rocks in the shallow bay and deposited it on the beach.
‘Then we have had a period of exceptionally calm weather so the tide tends to come in and out without picking up the seaweed.
‘On top of that recent tides were the highest tides of the year so the seaweed was pushed quite high up the beach. As we approach neap tides then the water simply doesn’t come in far enough to wash the weed back out.
‘And it had been exceptionally warm so the higher temperature was driving the bacteria that rot down the seaweed and making it smelly.’