Researchers Discover Decrease in Giant Sargassum Seaweed Mass Heading towards Florida

A massive seaweed bloom that was predicted to hit Florida earlier this year has significantly decreased in size, according to researchers at the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab. The report for October indicated that there was an estimated 150,000 metric tons of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea throughout the month, much of which had dissipated by the end of October. There was also very little sargassum overall in the Gulf of Mexico and nearly half of the sargassum in the Central Atlantic was situated west of the African coast.

Scientists believe that these abundances are much smaller compared to recent years, even for this time of year. The report noted that if there is going to be a new sargassum bloom for 2024, the first indications will appear in December. In June and July, there were indications that the seaweed was shrinking and moving, further alleviating concerns about its impact on Florida beaches. This is a positive development as it was expected to leave a smell of rotten eggs caused by a toxic gas that can be a problem for people with respiratory issues and was carrying Vibrio, a flesh-eating bacteria. Scientists are encouraged by the decrease in seaweed and are closely monitoring the situation.

The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a mass of seaweed stretching from Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, caused concern earlier this year when scientists were worried about its potential impact on Florida beaches. However, with recent reports suggesting that it has significantly decreased in size and become less of a concern, residents can breathe easier knowing that their beaches are safe from its effects for now.

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