Seaweed washing up on Florida’s coasts could contain flesh-eating bacteria

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University said seaweed that’s been washing up in Florida can hold deadly flesh-eating bacteria.

Researchers have been testing samples from the massive 5,000-mile blob that we’ve been monitoring in the Caribbean.

The seaweed itself, however, is not the issue here. The concern is the plastic that’s caught in the seaweed that can contain potentially deadly bacteria.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic concluded, after testing samples from the seaweed blob, that the plastic in it has significant potential for flesh-eating bacteria to spread.

The bacteria are called “Vibrio” and can cause infections if exposed to an open wound, which could be anything from a cut or scrape to recent piercings, tattoos or surgery. However, such infections are rare.

Seaweed season runs from April through October, and while the seaweed blob in the Caribbean is not an immediate concern at local beaches, we do see plenty of other seaweed wash up on our shores.

News4JAX meteorologist Katie Garner said when it reaches the sand, there is another concern.

“The seaweed itself, when decaying, can impact people with breathing issues,” she said. “The gases disperse quickly on breezy beaches.”

You might ask, so why not collect the seaweed while it’s still in the water?

Garner said it’s actually against the law because it’s a shelter and a food source for marine life.

It can be removed once it hits our shores.

If you’re wondering why you don’t see a ton of seaweed, even during seaweed season, that’s because crews rake the beaches every morning at popular tourist beaches. However, that’s not always possible everywhere you go.

About the Author: