Slimy, pungent seaweed is piling up along Atlantic beaches and two new reports find it’s likely going to stick around for a while.
Slimy, pungent seaweed is piling up along Atlantic beaches and two new reports find it’s likely going to stick around for a while. Such an abundance of the brown microalgae, formally called Sargassum, made 2018 a record-breaking year. However, researchers at the University of South Florida believe 2019 is on track to potentially be just as bad for some coastal regions.
“During winter months, most Sargassum disappears in satellite imagery, but this year is unusual,” said Chuanmin Hu, PhD, professor of optical oceanography in the USF College of Marine Science.
Hu released their July outlook report shortly ahead of revealing the discovery of the world’s largest seaweed bloom called the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt (GASB), which was just published in Science. Using NASA satellite data, Hu and a team of researchers found it stretched across surface waters from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico last year. It weighed more than 20 million tons – heavier than 200 fully loaded aircraft carriers.
“In the open ocean, Sargassum provides great ecological values, serving as a habitat and refuge for various marine animals,” said lead author Mengqiu Wang, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the USF Optical Oceanography Lab. “I often saw fish and dolphins around these floating mats.”
Read more at: University of South Florida
Sargassum off Big Pine Key in the lower Florida Keys. (Phtot Credit: Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute)