A Gargantuan Accumulation of Seaweed is Making its Way to Florida – The Washington Post
As the summer months approach, Florida is preparing for an inundation of a gargantuan accumulation of seaweed. This seaweed, known as Sargassum, is a brown macro-algae that originates from the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean. In recent years, the seaweed has become a ubiquitous environmental phenomenon, flooding the beaches of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico with its presence.
The magnitude of the influx of seaweed this year has been unprecedented, with some estimates projecting that the mass could cover up to 11,000 square miles of ocean. This level of accumulation is cause for alarm, as the influx of seaweed can have a variety of detrimental impacts on both marine and coastal ecosystems.
The primary culprit for the inundation of seaweed is thought to be a combination of climate change and nutrient-rich runoff from farming and industry. Warmer ocean temperatures are believed to create favorable conditions for the seaweed to grow and spread. Additionally, increased nutrient-rich runoff entering the ocean creates an ideal environment for the seaweed to thrive.
To mitigate the impacts of the seaweed inundation, numerous coastal states are working together to develop solutions. In Florida, the Department of Environmental Protection has been working in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assess the extent of the seaweed accumulation and explore potential management strategies.
The strategies proposed by the agencies include the building of artificial reefs to capture the seaweed and the application of nutrient-reducing strategies to reduce runoff entering the ocean. Additionally, they are exploring the use of novel technologies, such as ocean drones, to monitor the seaweed and inform management strategies.
Even with these strategies in place, the threat posed by the seaweed accumulation is still considerable. The influx of seaweed is projected to have a dramatic impact on marine life, as well as the local tourism industry. As such, it is essential that coastal states continue to work in unison to develop innovative strategies to mitigate the impacts of the seaweed and protect coastal ecosystems.