A recent report from the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab sheds new light on the massive seaweed bloom that was expected to hit Florida earlier this year. According to the report, there has been a significant decrease in size of the stinky sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea throughout October, with much of it dissipating by the end of the month. Additionally, there was 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.
The researchers noted that these abundances are much smaller compared to recent years, even for this time of year. They also indicated that if there is going to be a new sargassum bloom for 2024, it will likely appear in December. 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, according to this latest report, these concerns have been alleviated as scientists are closely monitoring the situation and optimistic about future developments.
In June and July, there were indications that the seaweed was shrinking and moving further away from Florida beaches, carrying with it a toxic gas that can be harmful to people with respiratory issues. Scientists are encouraged by these developments and are actively working to understand more about this phenomenon so they can better prepare for any future blooms.
For more information on this topic, you can visit the University of South Florida’s website or watch an episode of “Talk to Tom” where Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells discusses his findings with one of the researchers studying sargassum seaweed.