Member Highlight: Massive Seaweed Bloom Affects Florida’s Beaches

2019-07-15T11:18:00+00:00 July 15, 2019|
(Credit: Carol Schnaiter/NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, NOAA Ship OREGON II)

(Credit: Carol Schnaiter/NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, NOAA Ship OREGON II)

(From WUSF News/ By Carrie Pinkard) — A dark mass stretches from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s slowly growing, and choking the life out of some marine animals.

The mass is a giant seaweed bloom called the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.

Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science discovered the belt and the seasonal pattern of the blooms. The seaweed usually flares up in the summer months, with the worst blooms occurring in July and August.

Sargassum seaweed was known to live in the Sargasso Sea, located in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The seaweed isn’t inherently dangerous to humans, but it does emit a foul odor that could cause problems for people who have respiratory issues. It also mats up in bunches near the coastline, making swimming more difficult.

According to Mengqiu Wang, a researcher at USF College of Marine Science, Sargassum is helpful in the open ocean.

“Sargassum provides a great ecological value by serving as a habitat and refuge for marine animals like turtles, crabs, fish, and birds,” she said.

However, when there are dense patches of the seaweed near the coast, it smothers marine life and makes it difficult for fish to breathe…

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