The local authorities in Brittany, France are investigating whether a jogger who had a heart attack was overcome by toxic fumes from sea lettuce which then resulted in his death. This had lead to Jersey, part of the Channel Islands, stepping up their monitoring of sea lettuce as the risks to humans becomes more apparent. Already, decomposing sea lettuce is linked to the death of wild boar and horses with the new fear that it could be toxic to humans too.
St Aubin’s Bay on Jersey is a perfect breeding ground for sea lettuce because of its position– it is sheltered and sandy – and because it is rich in nitrates washed from farms in Jersey and northern France, and from the Bellozanne sewage treatment works. When the sea lettuce decomposes it gives off an eggy whiff – sulphurous gases – which means local residents and businesses have to keep their windows closed. People blame the tonnes of fertiliser used in the Jersey potato farms and the island’s growing population on the amount of sewage. All of this stinky sea lettuce is a good example of humans polluting their local environment. Are they being good stewards?