Expert: Heat wave behind more flies, maggots on coast

Posted at 11:06 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-08 12:30:53-04

SOLANA BEACH (KGTV) - The heat wave is creating a stomach-turning sight at some of San Diego's North County Beaches.

Water temperatures near 80 degrees are keeping local beaches packed. Lili Waters spends a lot of time at Table Top Beach, just north of Fletcher Cove, in Solana Beach. Tuesday was not the perfect beach day she expected.

"Normally, this is a really nice beach, but it's been absolutely horrible today," said Waters.

She noticed an unusual amount of kelp and flies along the shoreline.

"Then, I looked down and I was like, hey, kids there's maggots all over the ground and they're like what, I said look down there's maggots and then they started running," said Waters.

Seagulls are feeding on the maggots which are all over the beach near the piles of kelp.

"It's pretty disgusting," said Waters.

What's disgusting to beachgoers is actually important to the marine life.

"As the kelp breaks down, the flies create larvae, and then the birds eat the larvae, the larvae is washed into the ocean, the fish eat the larvae it creates nutrients and food for shore birds," said San Diego Lifeguard Captain Jason Shook.

Shook said the heat is killing the kelp which is attracting flies. Beaches from Torrey Pines to Carlsbad may see large piles of kelp wash up during the summer months.

"Those large reefs trap the kelp and then the kelp washes a shore in that area," said Captain Shook.

Some visitors complained to lifeguards, but there's little they can do.

"It happens generally in the warmer months and it usually coincides with the grunion season, which is March through the end of August. So, then we are restricted on our beach-raking areas. We are not allowed to rake the beach along the high tide line so the kelp will build up a little bit," said Captain Shook.

"There's a ton of seaweed. It's all wrapping around your feet when you're in there, like I said, it's horrible," said Waters.

Although it's unpleasant for visitors, it's important to the food chain.

"Some people don't want to be bothered by the kelp when they go to the beach. They don't like the smell, and the stuff that it brings along like the larvae, but it is a natural occurrence," said Captain Shook. "It's a really fragile ecosystem that we need to respect."