Seven Mile Beach gets smelly

| 06/10/2010

(CNS): Visitors and residents along Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach are complaining of a very unpleasant smell as well as the spoilt view due to a build-up of seaweed and algae. The recent bad weather has dumped a significant amount of sea debris on the white sands, which is now rotting and causing something of a stink. The Department of Environment (DoE) pointed out that it is a normal and natural phenomenon due to the recent storm, which has done a great job of cleaning up the local reefs but has certainly left the white sands of Seven Mile a little worse for wear. However, as it’s turtle nesting season the DoE is asking people  to contact the department to avoid disturbing nests and eroding the beach if they plan on cleaning up

With no single government agency responsible for keeping the islands beaches clean, the problem of algae and seaweed build-up is not uncommon in the wake of stormy weather and high seas. However, using heavy equipment on the beach can be an even bigger environmental problem as a result of beach erosion as well as the risk to turtles.
DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said she recognised the beaches did need to be cleaned but explained that anyone using heavy equipment needed to be very careful because of the turtles and also noted that the use of such machinery on the beach actually requires planning permission. The best way of dealing with this smelly issue was hands on, she said.
“It might be the hardest but the best and most effective way of cleaning up the seaweed is manually and bagging it up,” Ebanks- Petrie said, noting that it makes great fertilizer. The director pointed out that cleaning the area by hand would not only ensure that turtle nests were not disturbed but would also prevent beach erosion. When heavy equipment is used on the beach to clean it up, sand is always lost, the director observed.
Recognising the need to get the beach back to its usual attractive and considerably less smelly state, Ebanks-Petrie said that there was a need for a coordinated government policy towards the beaches, which are a public resource, and to deal with the situation when it arises in the wake of every spell of bad weather.
“This situation is not new; it happens every time there is stormy weather and we face the problem of people wanting to use machinery on the beach,” she said. “We really need a proper coordinated and approved policy of how it should be managed among the relevant agencies to avoid beach erosion and endangering nests.”
As is generally the case when sea debris is washed up after high seas, when the wind changes direction it is washed away again, and on Wednesday morning nature had already begun taking care of the problem. However, anyone wanting information about conducting beach cleaning can contact the DoE on 949-8469 or email:
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

About the Author ()

Comments (31)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Put the MLA’s out there to clean it up. This would be more profitable to the country than extended world tours.

  2. Fluffy Stuff says:

    Just leave it. We long since destroyed our tourism product with greed and massive over-development anyway. Our current area of focus is on destroying our finance sector so we are too busy to worry about some old beach. The two dollar cruise flock will be quite content swimming in the lagoon at the Turtle Farm. In fact, we should use this as an opportunity to increase their sales.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I suggest that all the business and condo owners along 7mile beach get together and for a change start to actually DO something instead of just complaining! Nobody is cleaning up my backyard for me either!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hello, Just a suggestion, why not use the prisoners, it`s high time that these priviledged group pay back the country for their actlons.

    PS. just saw that the great UK is now getting the picture that their prisoners must get off their a… and work , no more relaxing in luxury.

    • Rabble Rouser says:

      I would have to consult Mr. Legge first, but I believe such work would be beneath an eminent writer such as Sheldon Brown.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Seaweed is an excellent fertilizer maybe we should clean it up and sell it to help with our deficit. 🙂

  6. David R. Legge says:

    The putrid condition of Seven Mile Beach over the last week adds up to nothing less than an indictment of current Government policy.

    For days, the Cayman Islands’ most-valuable asset, this beautiful stretch of white sand that attracts most of our visitors and provides so much pleasure to our locals, was allowed to fester with unsightly and rapidly decomposing detritus and debris. It’s an understatement to say the beach smelled bad. The reality is it stunk.

    I personally communicated with three separate departments on this issue: The Department of Environment, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation. Representatives from all three could not have been nicer—but none had a solution and none had the resources or the inclination to clean it up.

    All agreed that “we need a policy”; one suggested that it was not Government’s responsibility since Seven Mile Beach was “private” and, therefore, it was the responsibility of the individual condominium strata boards to organize the cleanups.

    Clearly, this is wrong. Caymanians and others have an absolute right to use and enjoy the delights of Seven Mile Beach. Access is enshrined in Section 4 of the “Prescription Law (1997 Revision),” which reads in part:

    “When any beach has been used by the public or any class of the public . . . without interruption for 20 years, the public shall . . . have the absolute and indefeasible right to use such beach.”

    There can be no doubt. Seven Mile Beach is a public beach and, as such, the Government—not private interests—is responsible for maintaining it.

    In your CNS article, Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie acknowledges the problem but diminishes it by suggesting that, in effect, it happens all the time after storms and the resulting turbulence at sea. It doesn’t—at least not on Seven Mile Beach. It may on other Cayman beaches, say in East End or North Side, but they are not the same as Seven Mile Beach by any meaningful measure. Seven Mile Beach is our national treasure, and it has no equivalent.

    Ms. Ebanks-Petrie suggests that manual cleaning of the beach, rather than bringing in heavy equipment, may be the most desirable method of cleaning up such messes. She may be correct.

    Frankly it makes no difference to most people—certainly not to me—if Seven Mile Beach is cleaned up by a thousand civil servants (or volunteers) with a thousand teaspoons. What is not acceptable is for the Government to exhibit no urgency whatsoever in dealing with this environmental eyesore and possible health hazard.

    Ms. Ebanks-Petrie appears more concerned about turtles than she does about tourists. I’m not sure her department’s counterpart, the Department of Tourism, or the Honourable Premier who heads up the Tourism portfolio, would agree. 

    If there is interagency disagreement regarding which department is responsible for the cleanup, may I suggest that the first impulse of everyone in the bureaucracy should be to clean up the mess; second, once that is done, debate among themselves who should get the bill; and third and finally, along with the appropriate ministries, formulate a policy or set of guidelines to deal with similar occurrences in the future.

    Waiting for the weather and the tides to change (and thus sweep out to sea what the sea swept in) does not qualify as a “Government policy.” Such lassitude is not an acceptable response to a decaying mess on our most beautiful—and most public—Cayman Islands beach.


    • nauticalone says:

      So very well said. Thank you!

    • NorthSideSue says:

      The folks with the deep pockets (the owners of the SMB properties) need to do what those of us who own property elsewhere do.   DUH! Pay to have the beach cleaned.  Not a CIG responsibility.

      • Nonnie Mouse says:

        If in doubt, get someone else to pay for it.  Fiscal studies "Cayman style".

    • Rabble Rouser says:

      If we can convince the condo managers and people living in the condos to look at it as if it were a local come up to sit on their beach chairs, then it will be gone in a flash.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is it that SMB is SUCH a priority?  The whole island should be treated as a National Treasure.  The beaches, the land, the people.  You are rambling on about the tourism product as if SMB is the only place where "tourism" takes place.  I can assure you Mr. Legge that is so blind and so false.  There should be people out with their teaspoons all over the island.  It’s too bad your little stretch of paradise was soiled by Mother Nature but why don’t you hop in your car and tour the rest of the island and see what people, like yourself, are putting a blind eye to.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The business affected by the seaweed could employ a few unemployed Caymanians to clean the affected areas.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Strange that this is the same material you see floating in the predator tanks of the turtle farm

    Never seen this on the beach before

    Has any one checked the waste going into the sea from said turtle farm?


    • A Concerned Young Caymanian Father says:

      To the 2 "Anonymous" posters alleging (or trying to) that this is coming from the Turtle Farm or is caused by them, PLEASE try and get some sense and actual facts. This must be the first time you’ve seen the beaches after stormy weather.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Interesting that that type of seaweed and algae did not grow around here until recently – it’s all over the bottom now in the vicinity of the turtle farm…..I wonder why?

  10. Anonymous says:

    It amazes me that there is no government department responsible for keeping the beaches clean..SMB is Cayman’s no.1 resource and it is quite clearly NOT being cared for. 

    If you go up the West Bay end of the beach it is covered in litter.  Every morning you can see where people came to eat their KFC the night before and just walked away.

    The old Gecko bar and Marriot Hotel are slowly falling apart, there are wires and broken bottles sticking out of the sand and Tiki beach has had a massive impact on the sand erosion over a wide area.

    Seaweed is not the issue!

    • Lachlan MacTavish says:

       In 1985 I left Grand Cayman in my sailboat and visited 72 islands from Key West, through The Bahamas, USVI, St. Croix, BVI’s and on down the Windward Islands to Bonaire , JA and back to Grand Cayman. One of the things we noted was that island destinations that were focused on tourism had DOT and DOE organized to clean up all destination beaches immediately after bad weather. If Cayman wants to continue to boast one of the best beaches in the Caribbean why are not eco friendly manual and mechanical teams cleaning up the beach. With one of the largest best paid CS in The Caribbean you would think the Minister for Tourism for theCIG would be interested about making a tourism capital attractive to visitors. OR are we not a stay over destination anymore in the minds of our leaders.

      • Anonymous says:

        They are not here to see it – they are all away on their international jaunts!

    • Anonymous says:

      Tiki Beach is a crime against nature (another one).  It was quite a sight to see them actually PAVE THE BEACH.  Why is it so important that we take the places we say we love, and make them into a place to drink???  

      Ordinary freeking humans…..

  11. Anonymous says:

    So, between the smell of the beach and the effluvia from Mt. Trashmore, visitors and residents along SMB will reallybe in for a ‘special experience’!

    The natural one can’t be avoided but only some visitors are likely to understand that, while the other is a man-made shame. Hopefully this week’s announcement is a step to a solution and the Government must be commended for taking that step.

  12. Anonymous says:

    How out of touch with nature are you people!?

    Leave the sea grass!

    Its part of the natural cycle.

    Do not disturb. 

    The next storm will wash it away.

    • Anonymous says:

      Quite right…leave it for now.. it probably won’t get washed away but it will dry and is easily raked up when dry. If you try to remove it now you’ll remove a lot of good sand with it.

      You have to be patient with nature



  13. Anonymous says:

    CNS: "The Department of Environment (DoE) pointed out that it is a normal and natural phenomenon"

    On certain days, it is not normal and natural when you drive along West Bay Rd., heading towards Kentuky Fried Chicken by Dog City  – all to smell Mt. Trashmore! Nothing natural about that!

    • Anonymouse says:

      Mount Trashmore provides that delicate flavor or aroma that our Government Ministers require in order to prepare them for the day ahead while they drive to work from West Bay each day, just as the aroma of my morning coffee gives me reason to get out of bed everyday, so just live with it or move to a different location.

      It has been there for a long time and wont be leaving anytime soon.

    • Anaonymous says:

      Your post makes no sense. This story has nothing to do with the dump. They actually suggest using it as fertiliser instead of taking it to the dump.