Manatee mess closes South Florida beach

Oct. 9, 2009 at 7:06 PM

HUMISTON PARK, Fla., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A mile-long stretch of beach in South Florida has reopened after workers removed hundreds of piles of manatee excrement, officials said.

Workers at Humiston Park Beach along Vero Beach spent hours cleaning up the mess Thursday after the Indian River County Environmental Health Department identified it as manatee waste, TC.Palm.com reported. The workers buried the waste several feet beneath the sand.

"I've never seen anything like it, and I've lived along beaches all my life," said Bill Becker, who goes to Humiston several times a week. "It was disgusting, but mystifying. It looked like Great Dane poop all along the beach."

Charles Vogt, an environmental health specialist, said manatees migrating along the coast may eat as much as 100 pounds of sea grass a day each, but it is unusual for their excrement to wash ashore.

He speculated recent high winds may have stirred up the ocean bottom, sending the waste to the beach.

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