It’s the middle of summer. The Fourth of July is just about here. With the hot weekend, the Floridan beaches become very attractive, flocking thousands to the beaches, but on some of them in South Florida, including Miami Beach, there has been an unpleasant sight as of late.
Since late-June, large quantities of seaweed have invaded the coast, filling the shallow waters and the immediate shore with thick clumps of this smelly, ocean algae, known as Sargassum seaweed. Now while this seaweed is harmless to humans, it can cause some issues.
We mentioned how it smells, but when the seaweed becomes so widespread, it can cause beaches to become closed. This has happened in the past to some Caribbean resorts. No Floridan beaches have been affected by a closure, but that doesn’t mean the water is the best to swim in. This seaweed have made for very unpleasant conditions.
This seaweed can affect sea life. Growing by up to 2 feet in length, it can block sunlight on the coral reefs coming through the surface of the water. It can also even trap creatures such as crabs and sea turtles. For these sea turtles, it’s a rather interesting relationship. They may use this seaweed for shelter, but it can also clog turtle nesting grounds on the beach. Sargassum may attract foreign creatures as well, which can have a harmful effect on the sea life community.
So why do these widespread areas of seaweed form? Nobody exactly knows. According to researchers at the University of Miami, “One recent study uses satellite data and ocean and wind models to show that these events are the immediate result of Sargassum accumulation in the equatorial Atlantic—in particular, in the west, along the border with the southeastern Caribbean.”
There’s not much you can do besides cleaning any seaweed on the beach. In some of these events in the past since they first began in 2011 in the Caribbean, it can last for over one year, unfortunately.