By Kevin Haggerty, 3-13-23
Seaweed visible from space is causing health concerns for Southwest Florida as residents and visitors alike are warned to stay out of “red tide” washing tons of dead fish up onto the shore.
Estimated to weigh 20 million tons, the “Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt” stretches between the Atlantic coast of Africa toward the Gulf of Mexico, spanning 5,000 miles, nearly double the distance across the United States. Sargassum, a type of brown macroalgae, does provide benefits for certain marine life, absorbing carbon dioxide, but along the Southwest coast of Florida and throughout the Caribbean, it is causing a detriment to the ecosystem and people.
“What we’re seeing in the satellite imagery does not bode well for a clean beach year,” Florida Atlantic University research professor Brian LaPointe of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute told NBC News.
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editor’s note: We just checked with relatives walking the beach right now on the gulf coast west of Tampa. They say it’s OK there, but friends in the region are experiencing it.