NewsPinellas County


Thousands of smelly sea squirt clusters are washing up on Pass-A-Grille Beach

Posted at 3:30 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 17:59:17-04

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — If you’re heading to southern Pinellas County beaches you might notice a bad smell and odd-looking shell clusters covering the shore.

People at Pass-A-Grille beach are seeing thousands of gray fleshy clusters on the beach.

Shelly Augsbury comes to her favorite spot at Pass-A-Grille twice a week and loves hunting for shells.

"I thought I hit a gold mine, but they're kind of stinky and smelly," said Augsbury.

USF College of Marine Science professor Teresa Greely says they're sea squirts. She says powerful currents produced by Hurricane Laura hundreds of miles away in the Gulf, washed the heavy shell clusters to shore.

"The sea squirts attach themselves to hard structures and that’s why we see so many out here with shells attached," said Greely.

People who visit Pass-A-Grille, say they’ve seen this happen before after storms, but never this many. And with a large number of dying sea squirts comes a large smell that can't be missed.

"They’re decomposing right now. That’s why we have this really noticeable smell right now on the beach," said Greely.

Greely says the smell is not unhealthy or harmful like red tide.

And some say if you can get past the unpleasant smell and the gushy sea squirts, it's a great opportunity to find cool shells.