Sickened tourists are fleeing holiday beaches in Spain after an invasion of stinky algae along its southern coast. The revolting-smelling invader – rugulopteryx okamurae – is understood to have arrived from Asia in the ballast tanks of cargo ships.
The invasion of the brown gunk has spread along the Canos de Meca beach in the southern Spanish province of Cadiz making it unusable for holidaymakers and visitors. Spain is the most popular holiday destination with Brits, with an estimated 16.5 million UK visitors in 2022.
In 2021, Spain was the world’s No1 spot and it welcomed 88.1 million visitors in 2019. Now hotel owners have complained that many tourists are simply cancelling their bookings rather than risking putting up with the noxious odour.
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Tonnes of the algae have been spotted in the coastal sand which gives off a horrific stench as it decomposes, according to reports. The algae began arriving a few years ago but has increased massively thanks to rising sea temperatures.
Eco expert Lola Yllescas of Verdemar Ecologistas en Accion said the problem was spreading along the coast and Gibraltar Strait. Lola said: "It has affected bathers."
A spokeswoman for Ecologistas en Acción added: "It is a real disaster, especially for fishing. They cast the nets and only capture algae.
"It is a significant danger, but no one has taken it seriously until people have not been able to even get into the water due to the amount of algae there is."
He said the algae – which prefers rocky beaches where it can take hold more easily – has no natural predators so can spread rapidly. Local fishermen have also been hit by the invasion as the algae gets tangled in their nets.
The political party PSOE in Barbate claimed many tourists were leaving the beaches because of the invasive algae and the bad smell it causes. Coastal community officials said they were using tractors and diggers to try and clean up the beaches.
Before the invasion of the algae Canos de Meca beach was lauded as a beautiful stretch of sandy, unspoiled beach. Tripadvisor reviews praised the area for its "long white beaches with amazing views and a roaring sea". While another added that it was a "wild beach" with great places for "tapas and drinks".
However, now hoteliers have complained that tourists are cancelling their stays. Right now in the middle of the summer season the area is usually teeming with holidaymakers.
Last year, reports claimed that hundreds of dead fish washed ashore on the beach. They appeared left of the Trafalgar lighthouse on a beach known as Cala del Varadero or Marisucia beach.
Euro Weekly News states that residents believed it may have been because of the invasive algae. The fish do not eat the algae and so it's theorised that they are pushed into the area by the tide leaving them without enough oxygen and leaving them to eat food that poisons them.
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