In October, scientists at the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab released a report stating that the giant mass of sargassum seaweed headed for Florida had significantly decreased in size. According to their findings, only an estimated .15 million metric tons of the seaweed was detected in the Caribbean Sea that month, and much of it had dissipated by the end of October. Furthermore, 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.
These current abundances are notably smaller compared to recent years. The latest report can be found on the USF website. Scientists expect minimal sargassum in all regions throughout November, with indications of a new bloom for 2024 appearing in December. The giant mass of seaweed, known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, spans from Africa to the Gulf of Mexico.
Earlier this year concerns about large amounts of seaweed washing up on Florida beaches and associated smell caused by toxic gas sparked widespread interest online. Additionally, scientists found that the seaweed was carrying Vibrio bacteria which is flesh-eating bacteria harmful to people with respiratory issues. However, since June and July, the mass began to shrink and shift due to unpredictable ocean currents.
For further details on this topic or any other news related to Florida you can access Your Florida Daily or watch an interview with News 6 Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells who explains these developments on “Talk to Tom”.