Researchers at the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab have recently reported a significant decrease in the size of the massive, stinky seaweed bloom that was expected to hit Florida earlier this year. According to their October report, there was an estimated 150,000 metric tons of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea throughout the month, and much of it had dissipated by the end of October. There was also 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.
The researchers noted that these abundances are much smaller compared to recent years, even for this time of year. They also indicated that if there is going to be a new sargassum bloom for 2024, the first indications will appear in December. The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a mass of seaweed stretching from Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, caused concern earlier this year when scientists were worried about its potential impact on Florida beaches. However, with these latest findings suggesting that the seaweed has significantly decreased in size and has become less of a concern.
In June and July, there were indications that the seaweed was shrinking and moving further alleviating concerns about its impact on Florida beaches. This is a positive development as it meant that not only did it reduce concerns over smell but also over bacteria as well. The toxic gas produced by Vibrio bacteria can be harmful for people with respiratory issues who might come into contact with it while visiting affected areas. Scientists are encouraged by these developments and are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that no further measures need to be taken to mitigate any potential risks associated with future blooms.
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