Wooo weeeeee! “Fauntleroy stench” stink’n up the beaches

Don’t blame it on the dog or over clean the cat box. This mornings low tides and the lack of a good breeze is making it nearly unbearable around Beach Drive. Rotting seaweed or sea lettuce is busy emitting hydrogen sulfide into the air we breath.

The term “Fauntleroy stench” was coined back in the late 1980’s when the the cove and other areas around the sound experienced this same rotten egg sensation. The Seattle Times wrote an article about it during the hot summer 1998 when Fauntleroy residents were complaining of headaches and nausea due to the strong odors.

In small amounts, the gas can burn the eyes, nose and throat, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In moderate amounts, it can bring on headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and respiratory problems.

Contrary to what you might think, opening windows and doors while running fans is the best way to purge the scourge from your home.

Some experts believe that a mild winter combined with a prolonged hot summer is the yummy recipe to bring the stench. If that’s the case, next year could be a real duesey! I just think it smells like Labor Day.



Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

About Scupper


  1. Laurel Smith says

    Thank you for posting this information. I am a newbie to Beach Drive and boy is this ever an unwelcome visitor. I thought it was a broken sewer line and I am glad (I guess) to know that it’s not.
    Hopefully this will leave us shortly.

  2. Oh man. Tonight is particularly bad! I thought maybe it was the sewer they worked on back in July and actually called the utility company. Any ideas of how long this lasts? I’ve been here almost three years and never smelled something so foul…

    • Parts of France have been dealing with this for years and found that the sea lettuce thrives at 62.6 degrees. I’ll bet we’ve been averaging near that temp in a 24 hour cycle. They found growth is severely limited at 45 degrees & lower. The cause has been linked to water run-off that is high in nitrogen (septic & fertilizer).

      Also found this…In August 2009, unprecedented amounts of these algae washed up on the beaches of Brittany, France, causing a major public health scare as it decomposed. The rotting leaves produced large quantities of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas. In one incident near Saint-Michel-en-Grève, a horse rider lost consciousness and his horse died after breathing the seaweed fumes; in another, a lorry driver driving a load of decomposing sea lettuce passed out, crashed and died, with toxic fumes claimed to be the cause.[3] Environmentalists blamed the phenomenon on excessive use of nitrates by pig and poultry farmers.

    • Just spoke to a old-timer that’s been here since the 60’s, he said this year’s odor is just a “one cheek sneak” compared to the summer of ’88. “Lasted all summer long”.


  1. […] new controversy is brewing in regard to the rotten egg-like stench we reported along parts of Beach Drive SW.  A neighbor in the 4600 block reportedly complained about the […]

  2. […] Seattle has a real treasure a short distance away from Beach Drive’s odoriferous low tides: The Arboretum at South Seattle College’s north end.  Leaves there are beginning to turn reds […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.