10-Million-Pound Mass Of Seaweed Threatens U.S. Beach Season

A massive 10-million-pound mass of seaweed could be mucking up U.S. beaches this summer.

According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt (GASB) is a 5,000-mile-long seaweed blob that’s headed directly for Florida.

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The report notes that the GASB has been observed from space since 2011, often seen extending from West
Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, though it’s believed that it was observed as far back as the 15th century.

While Sargassum seaweed provides food and housing to various fish and wildlife, the large mass of it could cause environmental, ecological, and economic problems if not managed properly.

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According to National Geographic, the huge bloom could threaten the beach landscapes of Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Florida Health reports that the seaweed bloom hitting shore could cause hydrogen sulfid to be released as the seaweed rots, causing a pungent “rotten egg” odor and possibly making it harder to breath.

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The seaweed is expected to reach Florida beaches around July this year, per CNN.

According to CNN, Dr. Brian Lapointe, a researcher at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, said: “This is an entirely new oceanographic phenomenon that is creating such a problem — really a catastrophic problem — for tourism in the Caribbean region where it piles up on beaches up to 5 or 6 feet deep.”

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