Giant swarms of kelp could soon settle along beaches in Florida and across the Gulf of Mexico, scientists warn, polluting popular tourist destinations for months.
Seaweed is a type of leafy floating algae called sargassum — typically spends most of the year swinging in a 5,000-mile-wide mass across the Atlantic Ocean. Sargassum is generally helpful while at sea, providing food and breeding grounds for a variety of species, including fish, sea turtles, and seabirds.
The real danger of the Sargassum comes when it is washed ashore. Seaweed begins to rot after a few days on land, releasing hydrogen sulfide gas that smells like rotten eggs and leaving behind a brown sludge that can contaminate beaches for weeks. Hydrogen sulfide can threaten human health, and the sheer amount of seaweed could be too much for local crews.
Parts of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico were enveloped by approximately 200 tons sargassum earlier in March, prompting warnings of “surplusAlgae levels near the popular Playa del Carmen. Officials have warned that some beaches are at risk of up to 3 feet of seaweed a week, with no signs of sargassum decreasing as summer approaches.
The media in Key West also reported much earlier than usual. sargasso floods last week.
Past flowers prompted state of emergency in the Virgin Islands and polluted islands in the caribbeanAnd every year there are only more of them.
For the first time scientists noted supercharged seaweed rafts in 2011. Some researchers suggest that they may increase as the runoff of fertilizers and agricultural waste flows into the ocean in large quantities.
“These flowers are getting bigger and bigger, and this year looks set to be the biggest on record.” – Brian Lapointe, research professor at Florida Atlantic University said New York Times. “It’s pretty early to see so much, so soon.”
Large areas of sargassum are currently floating in the northern Caribbean and near the east of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
University of South Florida, which monitors annual seaweed bloom, predicts that 2023 will be “mainSargassum year, upcoming tourist plans and the threat to coastal ecosystems.
scientists they said they were expecting Sargassum scourge has become the new normal.