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.
Clearly this is Ron DeSantis' fault. The monster.
"Giant Seaweed Blob Heading Towards Florida" https://t.co/HbRsuMaB37
— Phineas Fahrquar (@irishspy) March 13, 2023
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The Climate Catastrophe™ strikes again!
No! It’s all De Santis’s fault, and Trump will save us all!
The Midas touch.
It’s Brandon’s fault, for not calling Monsanto in time.
Now he’ll have to call Pfizer.
This has been a regular occurrence in the Caribbean for at least a decade
This time it’s different. This is WOKE seaweed. And, it’s going to turn into [email protected]#$.
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.
True. Continental US is only roughly 3,000 miles WIDE.
Yeah, I was trying to picture where something that size could possibly fit, especially if it was headed for the Gulf coast rather than the Atlantic coast.
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 …
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.)
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? 😉
There must be a way to prevent it, like adding oil to the water.
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?
Perhaps it’s tangential to FL? And will pile up on the beach there like locomotives in East Palestine, OH?
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.
Or sushi roll vendors.
That’s where I went first. Maybe because I’m gardening more. It’s a resource.
Part-seaweed potting soils are quite the high-priced super, cosmic thing. I’ve seen vast swaths of Florida that could use some plant matter in the sand. Or ship it to Brazil — their ag is very fertilizer intensive.
Plotting course for Denmark and Sri Lanka, Captain..
Why not market the beach front resort to the vegan crowd, they would be in heaven with all that free food just steps away.
Also, Gaia says, math is climate denialist. Except for the “math” that says give us more money to fix the thing. That’s legit.
I’m from Redondo Beach, and I can’t recall ever seeing a massive swath of seaweed. Maybe Catalina Island keeps it away.
A 5,000 mile wide blob visible from space…. Is Stacey Abrams relocating to Florida?
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