Mysterious smell stinks up Sanibel Causeway
LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Iona in Lee County, isn’t far from the Sanibel Causeway, and for many, its paradise.
But lately, the locals said they haven’t been enjoying it as much.
“We’re people who usually will be out here during the day,” said local resident Daynalyn Mountney. “Hanging out enjoying the weather. It was so bad, we couldn’t even come out here. It’s almost like raw sewage and dead fish?”
She wasn’t the first person to tip us off to the stench, so we set off to figure out its cause. After a day of driving around and asking, it was still a mystery.
Until the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation sent us pictures, showing mats of “Salt Pan Anaerobic bacteria.”
FGCU’s Marine Ecologist Dr. Mike Parsons explained that it’s a kind of bacteria-eating organic material, producing noxious fumes like methane and hydrogen sulfide.
“Whatever the source of the organic matter is, the bacteria are breaking it down and releasing things like hydrogen sulfide, giving that rotten egg smell,” said Dr. Parsons. “Kind of mixed in with other gasses. Some people are reporting a sewage type smell as well.”
Some insisted that the smell was so bad, it had to be raw sewage. On Friday, Lee County said they went so far as to send out workers from Lee County Utilities to check and concluded that the smell wasn’t from an overflowing septic system.
Parsons said the smell likely comes from a combination of problems, including the dry season, stagnant water, and the anaerobic bacteria.