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Get ready for summer seaweed invasion

Sargassum hits south Florida could head northward

WJXT Meteorologist Mark Collins holds sargassum seaweed that washed up in Ft. Lauderdale.
WJXT Meteorologist Mark Collins holds sargassum seaweed that washed up in Ft. Lauderdale.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The environmental perils happening in the Amazon forest may foul your beach stroll over the next few months. 

Seaweed floating near Florida may become the worst inundation along the coast in recent years.

Brown sargassum seaweed has washed into south Florida beaches and blanketed coves in the Florida Keys. 

Satellites are detecting the highest concentration of seaweed since May 2015 throughout the Caribbean Sea and across the western central Atlantic.

Current seaweed concentrations are below 2018’s record levels in the Caribbean Sea but higher than most previous years in May.

Scientists at USF forecast high amounts will be sent into the Gulf of Mexico and east coast of Florida through July.

Large amounts of Sargassum during May in the Caribbean/Atlantic, is comparable to the 2nd largest amount during summer 2015, which could result in high amounts of Sargassum  beaching events this summer.
Large amounts of Sargassum during May in the Caribbean/Atlantic, is comparable to the 2nd largest amount during summer 2015, which could result in high amounts of Sargassum beaching events this summer.

Many beaching events along the Florida east coast will continue based on timing of the local ocean circulations and winds.

WJXT Meteorologist Mark Collins says any strong south and east wind events over the next few months will transport the floating algae toward Florida’s east coast.

Sargassum doesn't come from the north Atlantic but is generated between the Brazilian coast and west Africa.

Excessive deforestation near the Amazon River has increased rainfall runoff into the Amazon River and in turn, with increased fertilizer use in the region, has spiked the nitrogen in the water which fuels the seaweed growth. 

Trade winds near the Brazilian coast channel currents into the Caribbean and eventually into the Gulf Stream near South Florida.

Recent years of above normal water has made the naturally occurring Sargassum explode in concentrations.

While sargassum is beneficial to sea life, excessive mats can harm the creatures and be a costly nuisance on tourist beaches.


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