Where is the algae and how bad is it in Florida?

A substantial amount of sargassum is expected in June in both the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, according to the May report from the University of South Florida.

That’s no surprise to beachgoers who have been seeing the stinky algae washing up on Florida beaches from Pensacola to Brevard County. It is also unpleasant news.

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The University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Laboratory College of Marine Science maintains a satellite-based Sargassum Monitoring System.

Here’s the latest on where the algae is and when it’s expected to decline.

How much sargassum is out there?

Overall, the amount of sargassum in the Great Atlantic Sagassum Belt, which stretches from the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, decreased by 15 percent in May from what was seen in April.

“Such a decline for this time of year has never occurred in history since the first year (2011)” the sargassum belt has been monitored.

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The amounts of marine algae in the Caribbean Sea decreased slightly.

However, sargassum quantities in the West Central Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico increased slightly in May.

Where is the sargassum going?

Sargassum clumps in the western Atlantic continued to move westward with prevailing currents and winds.

In the Caribbean, most of the sargassum was located around the Lesser Antilles and along the southern coasts of Hispanola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and along the Mexican Caribbean coast.

Sargassum accumulations were observed continuously along the Loop Current into the Straits of Florida.

The Loop Current is an area of ​​warm water that rises from the Caribbean, passes through the Yucatan Peninsula and reaches the Gulf of Mexico. It is also known as the Florida Current as it flows through the Straits of Florida, into the Gulf Stream and heads north up the East Coast of the US, according to NOAA.

Looking ahead, where can we expect sargassum in Florida and elsewhere?

Sargassum amounts are likely to decline in June in the Gulf of Mexico, which should be good news for residents along the Florida Keys and Florida’s east coast, according to researchers at the University of South Florida. .

Elsewhere, due to the unexpected sharp decline in the eastern Atlantic and the relatively stable amount elsewhere, it is difficult to predict whether the amount of sargassum in individual regions will increase or decrease, although the amount will still be relatively high compared to the historical. values.

Beachgoers in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico can expect sargassum to continue coming ashore this month, “although the exact timing and location of individual stranding events is difficult to predict.”

What about the algae forecast for July and August?

The researchers predict that July sargassum amounts are likely to begin to decline in June than expected. That decline is expected to continue further into August, although impacts could linger in some areas.

See conditions on Florida beaches using these webcams

Planning on spending some time at the beach but want to check out the latest conditions? Here are several webcams throughout the state.

Beach webcams: Live Florida beach webcams show surf conditions, waves and sargassum seaweed

What exactly is sargassum?

Sargassum is a brown algae that floats in the ocean and is currently washing up in large numbers on many Florida beaches.

Is sargassum dangerous for people?

On land, the sargassum begins to rot and produces hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.

Hydrogen Sulfide can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. If you have asthma or other respiratory diseases, you will be more sensitive to hydrogen sulfide. You may have trouble breathing after inhaling it, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Tiny organisms that live in algae, such as jellyfish larvae, can irritate your skin if you come in contact with them.

Can you cook or eat the seaweed?

No. The Florida Department of Health warned that seaweed could contain large amounts of heavy metals such as arsenic and cadmium.

Read the full report on Sargassum in May

If you can’t see the report, click this link.