South Florida beaches expected to see massive increase of seaweed, doctor says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Mounds of brown, tangled blobs of seaweed, also known as sargassum, have been spotted this Spring Break all throughout beaches in South Florida.

It’s unsightly, it smells and it’s washing up on beaches in great amounts.

According to Dr. Brian Lapointe, a researcher at FAU, the thick, bushy seaweed sargassum is coming in earlier than usual and this year’s bloom is massive.

“I got some photos from some colleagues in Key West showing a lot of sargassum coming into Smathers Beach and this is very early, this is March 5th,” said Lapointe.

Satellite imagery shows that the sargassum is about 5,000 miles wide.

Scientists say sargassum is 5,000 miles wide and is expected to hit beaches in South Florida (WPLG)

Lapointe says the latest seaweed intake could add to what we already have on our shoreline.

“It is moving westward towards the Caribbean region and will be making its way to the Gulf of Mexico and South Florida in the coming months, so more is coming,” said Lapointe.

Sky 10 captured massive amounts of seaweed throughout beaches that include: Haulover, Sunny Isles, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.

Experts say there was a big uptick of seaweed in 2014, 2019 and it looks like 2023 could be the largest sargassum bloom recorded.

If the massive amount does make it to our beaches, experts say it can have serious environmental impacts.

“It can form dead zones as it comes ashore and rots,” said Lapointe. “It basically sucks the oxygen out of the water and when you see that happen, you can smell it.”

He says for now, there is no need to sound the alarm as the seaweed depends on the currents and wind.

Fort Lauderdale city officials say this year compared to the same time last year, they’ve seen an uptick in sargassum and have collected double the amount.

Officials also told Local 10 News that they have crews clearing the seaweed from the beach every morning.

About the Author:

Sanela Sabovic joined Local 10 News in September 2012 as an assignment editor and associate producer. In August 2015, she became a full-time reporter and fill-in traffic reporter. Sanela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a concentration in radio, television and film from DePaul University.