The University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab has released a report stating that the anticipated massive seaweed bloom in Florida earlier this year has seen a significant decrease in size. According to October’s report, there was an estimated 150,000 metric tons of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea throughout the month, with most of it dissipating by the end of October. Additionally, there was minimal sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico and almost half of it in the Central Atlantic was located west of the African coast.
Scientists believe that these numbers are much smaller compared to previous years, even for this time frame. They predict that there will be little to no sargassum present in all regions by November. Furthermore, if a new sargassum bloom is to occur for 2024, scientists believe that the first indications will appear in December.
Earlier this year, concerns were raised about the potential impact of a large sargassum bloom on Florida beaches when scientists were worried about its effects on people and marine life. However, with recent reports suggesting a decrease in size and movement of the seaweed, it has become less of a concern.
In June and July, researchers noted that the seaweed was shrinking and moving further alleviating worries about its impact on Florida beaches. This news is positive as it prevents a foul smell caused by toxic gas emitted by rotten eggs from affecting people with respiratory problems and also reduces fears about flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio spreading along coastlines. Scientists are closely monitoring this situation and will continue to provide updates on their website.
To learn more about this topic or for further information on this topic you can watch an episode of “Talk to Tom” featuring Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells discussing the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt with one of the researchers studying this phenomenon on USF’s website.