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'Really big' blob of seaweed headed toward Florida could create stinky beach conditions

Rotten egg smell can be irritating for people with breathing conditions
Posted at 5:59 PM, Feb 23, 2023

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — A giant floating blob of sargassum is far out in the Atlantic Ocean and apparently moving toward South Florida beaches this summer.

"It's big for this time of year," Professor Chuanmin Hu at the University of South Florida said. "It's really big. It's bigger than 2018."

Sargassum is not unusual for the Atlantic, Hu said, but the size of this bloom at this time of year, about 1,100 square miles, has the potential to make this a record year for the seaweed.

Satellite data shows a large blob of sargassum in the southern Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean stretching for hundreds of miles.
Satellite data shows a large blob of sargassum in the southern Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean stretching for hundreds of miles.

"People like to gripe about it," Doug Yoakum, a lifeguard on Lake Worth Beach, said. "It'll start stinking, and there's a lot of stuff that lives in it, little fish, jellyfish."

Hu said in some years, the rotten egg smell on the beach can be irritating for people with breathing conditions, such as asthma.

 Professor Chuanmin Hu speaks about the sizable amount of sargassum headed to Florida.
Professor Chuanmin Hu speaks about the sizable amount of sargassum headed to Florida.

Many cities, including Lake Worth Beach, hire a firm to rake the dried seaweed and bury it to strengthen dunes.

"There's only two companies in the area that really rake [the seaweed]," Yoakum said. "When it's really bad, they got their hands full."

Hu said he expects the floating sargassum blob to only get bigger this spring and reach our beaches around June.