Massive Incoming Environmental Phenomenon Could Create ‘Dead Zones’ On Florida Beaches

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Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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A top research professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) says south Florida beaches will experience a massive bloom of pungent, brown seaweed washup on shores in 2023.

Smelly clusters of brown seaweed called sargassum have already presented themselves in large quantities on beaches throughout Florida’s southern coast, with more expected to arrive, according to Dr. Brian Lapointe, an ecology expert on macroalgae.

“I got some photos from some colleagues in Key West showing a lot of sargassum coming into Smathers Beach, and this is very early, this is March 5th,” Lapointe told Local 10.

The sargassum bloom coming from the Atlantic Ocean appears to be around 5,000 miles wide, the outlet reported. Lapointe worries this enormous cluster will make landfall, overwhelming Florida’s beaches like Haulover, Sunny Isles Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.

“It is moving westward towards the Caribbean region and will be making its way to the Gulf of Mexico and South Florida in the coming months, so more is coming,” he said.

If the sargassum makes it to U.S. shores, it could be the largest bloom to hit land ever recorded, according to Local 10. Lapointe says this bloom could cause severe environmental effects. (RELATED: Florida Health Department Issues Urgent Warning After Man Reportedly Dies Of Suspected Brain-Eating Amoeba)

“It can form dead zones as it comes ashore and rots,” Lapointe said. “It basically sucks the oxygen out of the water and when you see that happen, you can smell it.”

Although sargassum is a critical habitat for many animals – including birds, fish, and turtles – it can alter the pH balance of the water and smother coral reefs.

Sargassum is cleared from Fort Lauderdale beaches every morning, according to city officials, reported Local 10. Fort Lauderdale city crews collected twice as much of the brown seaweed as in 2022, the outlet reported.