Now that we’re back in a multi-day stretch of warm, dry weather, there’s a chance – especially in light of algae blooms like the one shown above – that “the stench” could recur along West Seattle’s west-facing shores. Fauntleroy-residing writer Judy Pickens shares some backstory and coping strategies:
After a seven-year hiatus, the summer “stench” was back in 2018 and is again evident to residents near Fauntleroy Cove and along Beach Drive. Sea lettuce is flourishing with heat from the sun and ample nutrients in the water and, when the green mats dry on the beach at low tide, they give off hydrogen sulfide gas.
First documented in the early 1980s, the noxious gas can irritate eyes, cause headaches, and even prompt vomiting. Heavy and colorless, it can persist in basements and other low-lying sites.
After years of seeking relief at local and state levels, the Fauntleroy Community Association gained an understanding of the situation but little more, including why we had no stench for those seven years. Now the State Department of Ecology has a unit monitoring algae blooms and accepting reports.
Here are precautions to take if you turn out to be in the stench zone:
*Avoid being outdoors and close windows and doors an hour or so either side of low tide.
*Use a large fan to clear the air in bedrooms before retiring for the night.
If the stench is especially strong, leave home for a few hours if you can.