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5,000-Mile Wide Seaweed Bloom, Visible from Space, Heading Toward Florida’s Gulf Coast

5,000-Mile Wide Seaweed Bloom, Visible from Space, Heading Toward Florida’s Gulf Coast

Meanwhile, Red tide hits Florida’s southwest coast.

A giant seaweed bloom, visible from space, is heading toward Florida’s Gulf Coast and threatening to make it into a stinky, brown mess.

The 5,000-mile-wide sargassum bloom — believed to be the largest in history at twice the width of the continental US — is drifting ominously toward the Sunshine State, NBC News reported.

“It’s incredible,” Brian LaPointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, told the news outlet.

“What we’re seeing in the satellite imagery does not bode well for a clean beach year,” he added.

While the seaweed is harmless, tourism was impacted the last time the coast was slammed with a big bloom in 2019.

The size of this sargassum would make it one of the largest on record. Even though that sounds intimidating, in open waters, sargassums are mostly harmless and even come with benefits.

“Animals would feed on it. There’s a whole host of fish and etc, that live in the Sargasso Sea,” [” Barry Rosen, a professor in The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University] said.

And these blobs are known to produce oxygen, which can have consequences when it nears the shore.

“It can pile up on a beach and be pretty massive. And that happens on our east coast a lot over Miami Dade all the way North. On our coast, it doesn’t happen too often,” Rosen said.

2019 was a particularly bad year for sargassum on the East coast of Florida. It was stifling some of the tourism and racking up clean-up costs.

It turns out that the smell of decaying plants is unpleasant and can cause respiratory problems.

Brian Barnes, an assistant research professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science told NBC News that the seaweed can entangle boat propellers and block intake valves. When the seaweed gathered on beaches or in the shallows begins to rot, it releases noxious gasses like hydrogen sulfide, which can cause respiratory problems.

Over 11,000 Acute Sargassum Toxicity cases were reported in an 8-month span in Guadalupe and Martinique in the wake of the 2018 sargassum bloom.

This development is in addition to the red tide problem the Sunshine State is also facing.

Sarasota and Pinellas counties have been hit hardest, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

People should not swim through or near red tide waters, which can cause skin irritations, rashes, burning and sore eyes, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Those with asthma or lung disease shouldn’t even go onto the beach.

The bloom has already affected future events.

The organizers of the annual BeachFest in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., announced they were canceling the festival even though it’s more than a month away.

“Red Tide is currently present on the beach and is forecasted to remain in the area in the weeks to come,” the Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association, which sponsors the event, said in a public letter. “It is unfortunate that [the festival] had to be canceled but it is the best decision in the interest of public health.”

Of course, the blame for this bloom will be placed on the usual suspects.


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The Climate Catastrophe™ strikes again!

This has been a regular occurrence in the Caribbean for at least a decade

DarthBagel | March 15, 2023 at 10:10 am

5,000 miles wide? Shenanigans.

It’s less than 4,300 miles from Miami to pretty much any point on the west coast of Africa above the equator. The circumference of the Earth is only 25,000 miles, for crying out loud. This alleged seaweed bloom would barely fit in the distance from Los Angeles to Tokyo (5,500 miles).

Yeah, you’re citing the Post who cites NBC News but I’d like to think that *somebody* in this chain would do a sanity check on this number. Something twice the size of the continental US isn’t going to just inconveniently wash ashore in Florida — it would clog the entire Caribbean.

Wow. Never seen anything like this on WA beaches … once in awhile there’s a small pile of bull kelp washed in by a storm or high tide … but that stuff! Looks a bit like ‘the milfoil of the sea’ to me …

    GWB in reply to MrE. | March 15, 2023 at 11:40 am

    And for the same reason coeds don’t flock to WA beaches for Spring Break – because it’s cold up there. Even the kelp doesn’t want to spend time on the beaches up there!

    (I’ve enjoyed my time on PNW beaches. But it’s never been the same experience as Gulf Coast or southern Atlantic beaches (or in Jamaica). Flannel bikinis should not be a thing.)

      MrE in reply to GWB. | March 15, 2023 at 12:35 pm

      A form fitting wet suit can be eye-catching. You realize it will take me hours to wipe the image of buffalo plaid flannel bikinis from my minds-eye, right? 😉

rhhardin | March 15, 2023 at 10:51 am

There must be a way to prevent it, like adding oil to the water.

chaggard | March 15, 2023 at 11:31 am

Wow. 5,000 miles wide and headed for Florida’s Gulf coast? I didn’t think the Gulf of Mexico was that wide. How could it hold a mass of seaweed twice its area?

twice the width of the continental US
drifting ominously toward the Sunshine State
My problem is with this reporting. If it’s twice the width of the freakin’ US, how is it ONLY headed towards Florida? Florida’s Atlantic coast is about 500 miles long. If a huge chunk of it will miss Florida and slide into the Caribbean, why isn’t that mentioned? Will it hit Cuba and Puerto Rico, too?

Gosport | March 15, 2023 at 12:33 pm

Great opportunity for fertilizer manufacturers to scoop that stuff, grind it up up and compost it.

But I wouldn’t want to live downwind of them.

buck61 | March 15, 2023 at 1:29 pm

Why not market the beach front resort to the vegan crowd, they would be in heaven with all that free food just steps away.

BierceAmbrose | March 15, 2023 at 3:00 pm

Also, Gaia says, math is climate denialist. Except for the “math” that says give us more money to fix the thing. That’s legit.

Michael Johnson | March 15, 2023 at 3:43 pm

I’m from Redondo Beach, and I can’t recall ever seeing a massive swath of seaweed. Maybe Catalina Island keeps it away.

E Howard Hunt | March 15, 2023 at 3:58 pm

A 5,000 mile wide blob visible from space…. Is Stacey Abrams relocating to Florida?

joejoejoe | March 16, 2023 at 7:16 am


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