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The smell is so powerful that it is described as a rotten egg or a sewage spill. But it is none of them. Instead, scientists pinpoint the source of the odor to an invasive red seaweed in the Great South Bay. The red color in the water is most noticeable on hot days with south wind but often no one even knows it’s there.


This foul phenomenon is new to North America. And this latest outbreak on Long Island is wreaking havoc in the Great South Bay, where seaweeds thrive on high nitrogen and carbon dioxide, said Stony Brook University professor Dr. According to Chris Gobler.

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“It originated from Japan and is slowly spreading around the world,” Gobler said. “It prefers slightly cooler temperatures, and in the summer as the bay warms, it tends to rot. And in the fall, the smell of rotten seaweed and rotten seaweed is very bad.”

In addition to the smell, scientists said that rotting seaweed can deplete the oxygen in the water and harm marine life. In high concentrations, even breathing can be dangerous.

“At high levels, decomposing seaweed can release hydrogen sulfide gas and make people sick,” Gobler said.

Some ways to take action include limiting fertilizer use and updating your septic tank.

“Our home values, business and entertainment opportunities are dependent on the health of the bay,” said Robin Silvestri of Great South Bay.

Curbing pollution and sewer runoff now helps ensure the bay is healthy for generations to come.

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