Great news for fans of seaweed that collects on beaches in colossal heaps, and
In fact, in live views of Florida’s 2023 spring break festivities, you can watch the sargassum pile up in real time. Below, you can see part of a miles-long streak of sargassum running down Fort Lauderdale Beach. If you tune into this livecam early in the morning, you can watch attendants drive farm equipment over it, apparently to break it up and make it more manageable, since there’s clearly too much to remove.
Yes, these sargassum accumulations are new
This didn’t used to happen.
Historically, sargassum was known to float in giant brown rafts in a section of the North Atlantic named the Sargasso Sea in honor of sargassum. Sargassum beds are established and diverse ecosystems, and they’re home to (if you’ll excuse my editorializing) the most underrated predator in the ocean in terms of sheer viciousness: the sargassum fish.
But according to a 2015
“We noticed the seaweed looked different from the Sargassum fluitans or S. natans with which we were familiar from 20 years of sailing in the Sargasso Sea, the Caribbean, and Florida Straits,” the report said. In other words, this appeared to be an unprecedented accumulation of an unprecedented type of sargassum.
Humanity’s ecological havoc may play a role in sargassum accumulation
Further study is needed before anyone can say with confidence exactly what’s causing this apparently new phenomenon, but scientists are on the case.
Oceanographers now know from studying satellite views that this sargassum comes not from the Sargasso Sea, but from further south: a patchy stripe the width of an entire section of the ocean dubbed the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. In 2018 oceanographers
Eckerd College oceanographer Amy Siuda told Yong this state of affairs “is likely the new normal.”
Sargassum is a growing problem
NASA satellite photos show bigger and bigger blooms, with an increasing number of record-breaking years
Oh, and that rotten egg smell comes from hydrogen sulfide, which, health officials