Mysterious seaweed dump chokes S.Leone's coastline

July 4, 2011
Fishermen from Sierra Leone pull a net from the water on a beach in Freetown in 2009. Massive piles of seaweed have washed ashore along Sierra Leone's coastline, covering the white sand and raising fears for tourism and the fishing industry, officials said Monday.

Massive piles of seaweed have washed ashore along Sierra Leone's coastline, covering the white sand and raising fears for tourism and the fishing industry, officials said Monday.

"People should stay away until we determine through lab tests whether the weeds are toxic and harmful to human beings. We are now turning people away from the area," warned Momodu Bah of the country's .

About 15 miles (24 kilometres) of beach is affected.

Residents and hotel owners along the 4km-long Lumley Beach in the west of Freetown said they were startled by the appearance of the thick brown seaweed which started washing up early Sunday and by late Monday stretched across the beach, covering every inch of sand.

Bah said scientists from the Institute of and Oceanography had taken samples for laboratory tests.

"We are now working to identify the source and whether it is as a result of a for as Sierra Leone is within the West African Maritime eco-region and shares a border with Liberia where drilling for oil is also going on," he said.

"Another likely cause could be dredging being undertaken by mining companies or dumping of trash by international shipping vessels but we don't have sure answers for now."

Bah raised concerns for marine life, including turtles who breed in the area.

The National Tourist Board's planning and production development manager, Umaru Woodie, said "clearing the beach is an herculean task" and hotel guests were complaining about the smell.

Fisherman Tommy Koroma added: "The magnitude of the weeds is alarming ... We have not ventured out to sea as our nets are clogged up."

Explore further: Claim: Wet sand causes digestion problems

Related Stories

What science says about beach sand and stomach aches

August 11, 2009

By washing your hands after digging in beach sand, you could greatly reduce your risk of ingesting bacteria that could make you sick. In new research, scientists have determined that, although beach sand is a potential source ...

Florida closes down oil-stained Pensacola beaches

June 24, 2010

Oil from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill reached the white sands of Pensacola in north-eastern Florida, forcing local authorities Thursday to close down area beaches to swimming at the height of summer.

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.