Sea lettuce stinking out waterfront

Sea lettuce amongst mangrove seeds at Memorial Park. Photos: Sam Gardner.

An intriguing and slightly smelly substance washing up on the waterfront at Memorial Park has got locals turning heads.

John Stevenson, says he walks his dog in the park nearly every evening.

“We are aware there is white sea lettuce, but there is a huge difference between that and toilet paper.

“I’ve been having to tell people to look out for it. The smell is disgusting. After every high-tide and king tide it gets washed across into the park.

“Tourists will be playing with their kids in the playground and there will be poo in there.

“I’ve asked council to put signs up and to clean it up on multiple occasions. For every tourist that comes down here and discovers it the hard way, that means they will go and tell someone else, which causes a bigger problem.”

He says it’s a health and safety issue.

“Council say I’m wrong. I’ve asked how they know this if they haven’t been down to check it.

“It’s been like this for ages. I grew up in this town and it saddens me that we have an indifference to dealing with issues like this.”

He’d like an open dialogue with council.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s pollution team has responded to reports and confirmed the substance is sea lettuce.

“This is sea lettuce, which when it dries in the sun becomes white,” says communication advisor Jessica Sommerville.

In a fact sheet available on council website, Bay of Plenty Regional Council says sea lettuce can affect the way harbours and estuaries look, and also interfere with our use of the harbour.

“Over summer months of bloom years, depending on wind and tides, sea lettuce can be torn away from its growth beds and accumulate on beach and foreshore areas.

“These large accumulations of sea lettuce then rot and smell offensive because of their high sulphur content.

“Rotting sea lettuce can produce enough hydrogen sulphide gas to be dangerous to health, and shouldn’t be disturbed.”

In addition seaweed can also interfere with fishing nets and lines, says council.

“Sea lettuce blooms in Tauranga Harbour are controlled by natural events and are less clearly linked to nutrient runoff from land.

“The sea lettuce blooms match the El Nino weather pattern, when persistent westerly winds drive coastal water offshore.

“In these conditions deeper oceanic water wells up to replace the coastal water, bringing with it cooler nutrient-rich water which then enters the estuaries.

“It’s this increase of nutrients and the temperature reduction which is the main cause of the blooms, rather than nutrients from the land around the harbour.”

“The bloom is monitored by regional council every two months, but due to its uncontrollable nature it is deemed too costly and impractical to clean up.”

Bay of Plenty Regional Council encourages all members of public to call the 24/7 Pollution Hotline in the first instance for pollution related incidents.

For more information on Sea Lettuce visit the regional council website



Posted on 09-02-2018 05:31 | By old trucker

my thoughts only on this, is why cant the PORT OF TGA dredge this ,they had those huge dredges in the harbour and they could have (surely )put pipes out and opened up channels, also the estuary by Chapel st use to be quite open but now more sand build up this could be dredged as well and would drag all that rubbish away as it is flat now and cannot pull off with outgoing tide, could the TCC clean this up and take it over too the compost makers behind speedway,but hangon, cannot as we are arguing over spending millions on not wanted things and cleaning this up would need CONS ultants with Flouro jackets and Clipboards to look at this and COST MONEY, golly gosh cant have this can we, gosh can i get a job as a CON sultant. Thankyou, Sunlive, 10-4 out. phew.

@ C-Hottie

Posted on 08-02-2018 16:19 | By MISS ADVENTURE

The sewerage is the issue and has always been an issue. Now the volumes leaking into the Harbour and the vast volumes dumped into the sea off Papamoa beach then all swirled around have been esculating over the years to the problem is proportional to the population creating the raw product that one way o another ends up in the harbour = green lettuce.

Sea lettuce

Posted on 07-02-2018 21:45 | By Captain Hottie

I remember when I first visited Tauranga and there was dried up sea lettuce and I did think it was bog paper cos it stank so much, and thought OMG what sort of city has raw sewage on the beach!! Rotting sea lettuce can produce enough hydrogen sulphide gas to be dangerous to health, and shouldn’t be disturbed.The bloom is monitored by regional council every two months, but due to its uncontrollable nature it is deemed too costly and impractical to clean up".So it’s a health hazard, but you won’t clean it up..?


Posted on 07-02-2018 17:45 | By kiwiasauras

I think this particular episode is related to the last big storm and king tides.I spend most weekends on the harbour and the sea lettuce that used to clog up the harbour for the past decade or so is gone!The anchor warp is clean!

Not now John

Posted on 07-02-2018 16:56 | By maildrop

Looks like toilet paper...but does it FEEL like toilet paper John? Take a closer look and get your facts straight before calling everyone. On with the show.

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