ORIENT BAY--Sindextour, the company that operates the “5 Stars” beach restaurants Kon Tiki down to Coco on Orient Beach, has taken delivery of a machine specifically fabricated to pick up sargassum weed.

The 65,000-euro machine named “Scarbat” is manufactured by the Spanish company Beach Trotters based in Barcelona, and was presented by representatives of the company on Monday at Bikini Beach. The company exports beach cleaning machines all over the world.

According to Beach Trotters’ Managing Director Serafí Mercadé, the six-metre long machine is the first of two in the Caribbean and based on a prototype produced last year. The other machine is at a hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, but not in use yet as the hotel needs a tractor.

“There is no danger of beach erosion because the machine only picks up the sargassum and leaves the sand and everything else behind,” Mercadé emphasised.

Although a demonstration by the machine was not possible due to the time of day and tourists and sun loungers on the beach; the machine, which is towed by a tractor works in a similar way to a combine harvester, scooping up the sargassum weed and sending it along a vibrating conveyor belt into a two-and-half-cubic-metre bucket at the back of the machine.

In a different mode the machine can be adapted to pick up bottles, cigarette butts and other detritus.

“We can say that this one is the first to be operating in the Caribbean,” Mercadé added. “After months of testing the prototype until we were satisfied with its performance, we started promoting it in the markets from July this year.”

Sindextour representative Philippe Casaubon indicated the machine will be used to clean the beach between Kon Tiki and Coco for the comfort of their clients.

“We are probably the first to buy this machine in the Caribbean as it is the first model based on the prototype,” said Casaubon. “We looked at two machines before deciding this one was the best for us. We want to keep the beach as clean as possible for the tourists. We are very concerned about the sargassum weed problem and up to now neither the Collectivité nor the Préfecture have been able to help us so we took the initiative.”

He noted cleaning of the beach with the machine has been entrusted to Julian Brooks from French Quarter. He has been cleaning the beach for Sindextour for some 20 years.

The machine will be in use very early in the morning before tourists arrive.