CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - The amount of seaweed is what you notice first. In one direction the brown dried blanket coats the sand. In the other, a fresh batch of it waits to come ashore.
"It smells really bad. And it's dry, yucky, crumbly. Nasty."
This is Cherae Vallandingham's first ever trip to Clearwater Beach. She's happy that not too much is in the water here.
But, "It's sad. It's sad to see it all this washed up like this. The ocean's beautiful, but this is an eyesore," Vallandingham said.
Even the people that have lived at the beach for years have had their fill of the stuff.
"I've been here since 1991. I've never seen such a dirty beach is all my life, this is terrible," said Mario Locco of Clearwater.
Pinellas County Coastal Manager Andy Squires shed some light on what's been washing up on the beach the past few weeks.
"This is a brown algae called Sargassum. And it typically is out in the open gulf," explained Squires.
Squires says it's hard to know for sure if the Sargassum is a direct result of Tropical Storm Debby. And though it's typical for it to show up our beaches, this year seems like an invasion.
It might have an official name, but to people at the beach, it's just seaweed; and lots of it. When dry, it can be uncomfortable on the feet. But it's basically harmless.
Renaldo Jenkins from Atlanta was visiting Sand Key park with his family and didn't let the seaweed ruin his trip.
"We're still having fun. You just have to swim a little further out to get away from it," said Jenkins
Clearwater rakes their sand with machinery every day of the year. It helps, but it will likely take time and nature's help before it's gone for good.
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