The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a mass of seaweed stretching from Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, has caused concern earlier this year when scientists were worried about the potential impact on Florida beaches. However, researchers at the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab have reported that the massive, stinky seaweed bloom that was expected to hit Florida earlier this year has significantly decreased in size. According to the report for October, there was an estimated .15 million 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.
Scientists believe minimal sargassum will be present in all regions in November. They also indicated that if there is going to be a new sargassum bloom for 2024, the first indications will appear in December. The latest report and updates on the sargassum situation can be found on the University of South Florida’s website. For more information on this topic, you can watch an episode of “Talk to Tom” in which Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells discusses the sargassum belt with one of the researchers studying the phenomenon.
The decrease in size and movement of seaweed has alleviated concerns about its impact on Florida beaches as it was expected to leave a smell of rotten eggs caused by toxic gas that can affect people with respiratory issues and carry Vibrio, a flesh-eating bacteria. Scientists are encouraged by these findings and closely monitoring