What is sargassum? The giant blob of seaweed hitting Florida
March 18, 2023 at 18:29
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.
Yes, these sargassum accumulations are newThis 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.
"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.
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.
This in turn may have supercharged seaweed growth, transforming occasional patchy collections of sargassum into the huge, self-perpetuating seaweed monster we have today.
Sargassum is a growing problemNASA satellite photos show bigger and bigger blooms, with an increasing number of record-breaking years since 2011(Opens in a new tab).
University of South Florida oceanographer Brian Barnes told the South Florida NBC news affiliate(Opens in a new tab) that 2023 looks like another monster year.
It’s likely be as big as or if not bigger than the bloom that we saw last year," he said.