October 30, 2020

Brown seaweed appears in massive amounts on Florida, Caribbean Beaches

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By Sean Breslin From The Weather Channel

This never happened before 2011, but now, scientists are preparing for a recurring invasion of Sargassum seaweed.

A foul-smelling brown plant has invaded beaches all across the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Known as sargassum seaweed, the blooms have only been appearing in these areas since 2011.

Scientists haven’t yet figured out why this is happening, but some suspect climate change.

Across the Caribbean and along the Florida coast, a dangerous, stinky invasion is happening, and experts haven’t figured out why.

Known as sargassum seaweed, the thick plant has overtaken beaches in South Florida in recent weeks and has lined numerous Caribbean island coastlines for even longer, according to a report from the University of Miami. The seaweed isn’t just smelly – it’s blocking out light for organisms that need it and can mess with the ecosystem, said University of Miami Rosenstiel School Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies scientist Lew Gramer in the report.

“It’s catastrophic,” James Franks, a marine biologist at the University of Southern Mississippi in Ocean Springs, told . “Right now there’s [another] huge mass impacting Puerto Rico, and that’s the last thing they need.”

The seaweed is showing up in places where it was hardly seen before the first sighting in 2011, but these blooms have returned every year since, Science Magazine also said. It’s having far-reaching impacts, forcing the government of to declare an emergency and forcing one of Antigua’s key hotels to close until October, the Antigua News Room reported.

The blooms smell awful, resembling rotten eggs, experts said.

As more than 1,000 square miles of the seaweed invade Florida’s beaches, scientists are trying to figure out why these blooms have become such a regular occurrence, but only since 2011. Right now, all they have is “educated speculation,” University of South Florida oceanographer Chuanmin Hu told Science Magazine.

Gramer theorized that there might be an influence from climate change. After all, unusual patterns in the Sargasso Sea – a region of the North Atlantic Ocean where the sargassum seaweed originates – were first observed just prior to the first mass arrival of the plant, he said in the report.

While the smell can be off-putting and the beachings are thick in some areas, experts say the plant is not harmful to humans. Still, the invasion has been a huge problem in the Caribbean, and some say each bloom has been worse than the last.

“You can’t solve the problem; you can’t put up a wall or anything,” Iris Monnereau, a regional project coordinator for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Barbados, told Science Magazine. “It’s difficult to go forward.”

IMAGES:
A picture taken on April 23, 2018 shows sargassum seaweed (sargasso) in Saint Felix harbor in the city of Le Gosier on the French Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe.
(HELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images)

Sargassum Seaweed Invades Caribbean,

For more on this story go to: https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2018-06-27-sargassum-seaweed-florida-caribbean

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