WATER QUALITY REPORT DATED 05/21/2023
Just a few weeks ago, many media reports about the thousands of tons of fetid brown seaweed washing up on the beaches of Southwest Florida every day were very similar: grim and ominous.
Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, as it's been called, is a 5,000-mile ecosystem mat that should float on the beaches of Southwest Florida, covering the sand with foot-thick, smelly, brown, coarse seaweed.
It was meant to be a cruel post-Ian trick of nature.
The Legacy of Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian in September destroyed billions of dollars worth of homes and businesses, cars and trucks, personal effects and valuable photographs. In some places there was no electricity for several weeks. Debris from the hurricane piled up along the roads from Marco Island to Sarasota, and garbage collection companies from across America were hired to pick it up. Some businesses never reopened and some people lost their jobs.
TheHurricane Ian's aftershocks lasted for months. All the nutrients dumped into the Gulf of Mexico fueled the red tides that came one after the other... well, you get my meaning. The resulting fish kills washed tons of bloated, smelly carcasses ashore, and industrious crews cleaned up the beaches. Soon after, a new red tide did the same. Rinse and repeat for almost seven months.
Eventually, toward the end of March, the red tides became less frequent. In the absence of a strong red tide, the number of fish killed declined rapidly. The acrid smell of red tide filled the air, mingled with the smell of rotting fish carcasses.
For sunbathers, the sandy beaches began to smell of salty air again. For beachfront business owners, the return of people to shore has meant customers have come back for ice cream, souvenirs, food and drink, boat rentals and paragliding trips.
Life should be a beach again.
Then the Great Atlantic Sargassum BeltBeat the news:
A giant algal bloom visible from space is threatening Florida's beaches
"A giant clump of seaweed so big you can see it from spacethreatens to turn the beaches along Florida's Gulf Coast into a brown swampsay scientists. A 5,000-mile-wide sargassum bloom — believed to be the largest on record, twice the size of the continental United States — is drifting ominously toward the Sunshine State.”
A huge bed of algae is on its way to Florida and is threatening to cover the beaches
"A giant patch of seaweed stretching 5,000 miles and weighing about 6.1 million tons threatens to blanket the beaches of Florida and Caribbean islands in fetid heaps of decaying brown goo."
A huge bed of seagrass is washing up on the Florida shores. What is a sargassum?
“Large amounts of sargassum washed up on Florida beaches like Miami in July last year, according to CBS Miami. This year, photos from Miami Beach are already showing brownish algaeCreating a barrier between the sandy beach and the shore“.
Have you avoided the algae invasion?
Despite at leasta storypublished online andbroadcast on the radioTocast doubt on whether the unfortunate ones were rightLittle was available to news audiences in Southwest Florida other than these almost apocalyptic tales of an impending Sargassum invasion.
Sargassum clustered on some islands in the Florida Keys and on the state's east coast.
It turns out, however, that with the exception of the occasional heap almost small enough to be picked up by hand (don't you: remember those stingy creatures?), the "blotchy" sargassum, like him, does too was called,hovers just off Southwest Floridaand is currently on his way to Texas.
What are you talking about? Close? Have we finally rested?
There's still a chance some sargassum can be found here, but it looks like the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt is continuing to flow west.
A red tide organism, Kareniabrevis, was discovered in recent water quality surveysdetected in 30 samplesThat is, they were collected on the Florida Gulf Coastcompared to over 100 positive samplesjust a few months ago.
Not enough of the organism has been found to produce full blooms, which often stain the water.
WSüdwestflorida,K. brevisobserved in the background of low concentrations in Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties. Offshore tests in Collier County have also found small amounts of the organism.
reports fromkill the fishA suspected red tide was reported from Sarasota County, as was a spate of reports of respiratory irritation.
What is a red wave?
Red tide is a type of harmful algal bloom caused by high levels of the toxic flagellate K. brevis, a microscopic species of algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tides typically arise naturally offshore, usually in late summer or early fall, and are carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. On land, these opportunistic organisms can use coastal nutrient sources to fuel their growth. It usually blooms into winter or spring, but in some cases it can take longer than a year.
Is Red Wave harmful?
K. brevisproduces potent neurotoxins that can be harmful to both wildlife and humans. Wind and wave movements can open upK. breviscells and release toxins into the air.
So watch the conditions and stay away from beaches where the red tide blooms. People in coastal areas may experience varying degrees of eye, nose, and throat irritation during the red tide bloom.
Some people with chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic lung disease, experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, leading to their death.
What causes a red wave?
Red Tide blooms develop naturally, but recent research has shown that adding other nutrients to the mix, such as B. lawn fertilizer, can cause the red tide to last longer or become stronger.
However, there is no factor that causes the red tide bloom to appear, although marine scientists from several research institutes and universities are conducting programs to identify the triggers.
Recent sampling by the Lee County Environmental Lab showed elements associated with blue-green algae at the Alva boat ramp as visible patches on the surface and in the water column, but no surface algae patches.
Similar conditions prevailed above the Franklin Locks and on the Davis Boat Ramp as streaks of wind driven accumulation along the breakwater.
LastSatellitenfotosfrom Lake Okeechobee showed moderate to high flowering potential over an area of more than 100 square miles in the southern portion and in Fisheating Bay.
What are blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in fresh, salt, or brackish water. Large clusters, called flowers, can color the water blue, green, brown, orange, or red. Some cyanobacteria blooms may appear as scum, foam, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As the algae die off in the cyanobacteria bloom, the water can have an unpleasant odor
Are blue-green algae harmful?
Different types of blue-green algae bloom species can look different and have different effects. Regardless of the species, however, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that, if ingested, can make you or your pets sick or irritate their skin and eyes.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recommends staying away from water where algae is visible as spots or mats, or where the water is discolored. Pets and livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom infested water, algal bloom material or fish on the bank. If this happens, wash the animals immediately.
What causes blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae blooms occur when the normally occurring algae grow in greater numbers than usual. Within a few days, the flower can cloud the clear water. The wind tends to blow some of the floating flowers ashore where they will be more clearly visible. Cyanobacteria blooms can form in warm, slow-moving, nutrient-rich waters. Flowering can occur at any time, but it is most common in late summer or early fall.
When there is an important type of water quality alert, you can know the detailshere in the WGCU Water Quality Report.
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But eventually, more of it washes ashore. But not everywhere. "Some of the Florida beaches, including the ocean sites of the Florida Keys and the east coast of Florida, will experience peak months from May to July 2023," said University of South Florida College of Marine Sciences professor Chuanmin Hu.Is there a sargassum prediction for 2023? ›
Last year was a record-breaker for the total amount of sargassum, with it reaching a peak of 22 million tons in July. Hu said 2023 could be another major sargassum year, possibly surpassing 2022.What is the water content of sargassum? ›
Sargassum spp. contains 46.59- 50.98% carbohydrate, 0.94-1.99% fat, 6.44-10.64% protein, 22.56-24.76% ash, and 16.19-19.64% water.Where is the sargassum Bloom 2023? ›
Massive seaweed bloom is largest seen
As of April 2023, this year's sargassum bloom is headed for the Caribbean and east coast of Florida. While some areas are already seeing the sargassum come ashore, the bulk of it is expected to arrive in June or July.
From October to May to avoid seaweed
If you want to dip into sargassum-free beaches, the best season is from October to May. Fun Fact: Some resorts like Seadust Cancun have made efforts to keep the seaweed from arriving at the shore by implementing a marine-life-friendly barrier.
2023 looks to be no different, with record amounts of the macroalgae drifting into the Caribbean Sea in April. PUBLISHED: May 1, 2023 at 4:41 p.m. | UPDATED: May 1, 2023 at 5:35 p.m. The massive 5,000-mile-long seaweed swath that has been creeping westward across the Atlantic just broke a record in the Caribbean.How long will the sargassum seaweed last in Florida? ›
Sargassum seaweed is not a new phenomena, but this year's mass is the largest ever recorded. Florida's seaweed season typically runs from April until October, peaking in June and July. The seaweed comes in waves, depending on currents and wind direction.Which South Florida beach has no seaweed? ›
No Seaweed - Haulover Beach Park.What beaches are not affected by Sargassum? ›
- Palm Beach on Aruba, Dutch Caribbean. ...
- Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. ...
- Playa Porto Mari on Curacao, Dutch Caribbean. ...
- Morne Rouge Beach on Grenada.
✓ Always supervise children at the beach. ✓ Avoid touching or swimming near seaweed to avoid stinging by organisms that live in it. ✓ Use gloves if you must handle seaweed. ✓ Stay away from the beach if you experience irritation or breathing problems from hydrogen sulfide—at least until symptoms go away.
We're using more fertilizer, burning biomass, cutting down forests and increasing wastewater from cities, all of which sends ammonium, nitrate and phosphate down major river systems. Those elevated nutrients then shoot out over the surface of the ocean, acting as a fertilizer for sargassum patches.What month is sargassum in? ›
Nearly every year since 2011, sargassum has inundated Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Florida coastlines in warm months, peaking in June and July.Where is sargassum heading? ›
Most of the mass, known as the great Atlantic sargassum belt, is headed to the Caribbean Sea, putting small island nations more at risk of the seaweed invasion. But areas along the Gulf Coast will also be affected, including Florida, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi in the U.S. and along Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.Where is the sargassum belt currently? ›
Sargassum grows in the calm, clear waters of the Sargasso Sea – a 2 million-square-nautical-mile (5.2 million-square-kilometer) haven of biodiversity that lies east of Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than beaches, it's bounded by rotating ocean currents that form the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre.Will there be sargassum seaweed in Florida 2023? ›
USF reports it remains difficult to predict exact timing and location for individual beaching events but substantial amounts of the seaweed are expected in May in both the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. June is forecast to be the likely peak of the 2023 season, but impacts are expected to continue into July.Where in caribbean has no sargassum? ›
Your vacation experience in Isla Mujeres will be free of sargassum. Located in the Caribbean Sea, 13 km off the coast of Cancun (Quintana Roo, Mexico), Isla Mujeres is a tourist town that thanks to its natural beauty has gained recognition in recent years.Is sargassum bad in August? ›
The amount of sargassum seaweed in Cancun varies by season and even daily. Generally the worst months for seaweed are July and August.Where should I stay in Mexico to avoid sargassum? ›
The most well-known beach that's expected to remain free of sargassum, for now, is Playa Norte, located on the Isla Mujeres. Consistently regarded as one of the best beaches in the world, Playa Norte is renowned for its typical crystal-clear waters and white sands that look like they've come straight from a postcard.How long does sargassum season last? ›
This means Sargassum may become a regular sight on South Florida beaches during “Sargassum Season” (March through October).Which state has highest seaweed diversity? ›
The regions of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu harbor the highest seaweed diversity . Gujarat, which is represented by 1600 km coastline, harbours 198 species of which 109 species from 62 genera belong to Rhodophyta, 54 species from 23 genera to Chlorophyta, and 35 species from 16 genera to Ochrophyta .
Decomposition of Sargassum Seaweed
This is a colorless gas that resembles the smell of rotten eggs. Sargassum's decomposition cycle lasts between 8-16 days. The gas is not harmful within an open environment but one might experience the symptoms of nausea, headaches and itchy eyes.
That's because the seaweed will follow the Gulf Stream current, which moves around Cuba, past the Florida Keys and then makes its way around Miami and the east coast of Florida, its those beaches where the seaweed will likely wash ashore. "It's a natural plant is not an invasive species.Is massive seaweed coming to Florida? ›
A nearly 5,000-mile-wide blob of seaweed heading towards Florida has been seen from space and washing ashore in parts of Florida. “We've already seen some of this arriving in Key West,” said Florida Atlantic University Research Professor Brian Lapointe.Is sargassum season over? ›
The sargassum season usually starts in April and can last through October in Cancun—it was officially over by that time last year, and we all expected a sargassum-free winter, but its recent presence in January and February has been making experts, locals, and travelers wonder if the season has already started.What part of Florida has seaweed problem? ›
Southern Florida, the Caribbean and the Yucatán Peninsula typically see sargassum piling up in the summer months and could expect the same this year, Hu said.Why is there so much seaweed in South Florida right now? ›
Fertilizer runoff and sewage dumped into the ocean have fed sargassum more nutrients, while climate change has warmed ocean waters and given the seaweed a more hospitable environment in which to grow.Does Panama City Beach have sargassum? ›
“Sargassum weed is something that we contend with all the time at Panama City Beach,” Sale said. 'We rake our beaches three times a week. We have a contractor on hand to do that regularly and we'll continue that trend.”Do the Bahamas get sargassum? ›
There are already reports of many popular vacation destinations such as the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, and Florida Keys, experiencing waves of the stuff washing up on beaches since the beginning of the year.Does Turks and Caicos have sargassum? ›
Sargassum can collect on windward coasts in the Turks and Caicos, such as on much of South Caicos, Grand Turk, the eastern side of North Caicos, and the Ambergris Cays.Will sargassum affect cruise ships? ›
The sargassum seaweed will mainly impact the experience on the beach for cruise ship visitors in port. Those enjoying the beach can forget about the lush blue crystal clear waters for that perfect selfie. Smaller boats would also have to avoid heavy areas with the seaweed incase it's gets twisted in the propeller.
Green sea turtles will eat large amounts of sargassum throughout their lifetimes. Besides sea turtles, this floating habitat provides food, refuge and breeding grounds for an array of other sea life including crabs, shrimp, mahi mahi, jacks, and amberjacks.Does the Pacific side of Mexico get sargassum? ›
The presence of Sargassum occurs over large areas from the tropical Atlantic in the east, to the Gulf of Mexico in the west, approximately 5,000 kilometers from the eastern tropical Atlantic to the west off the Mexican coast in the Caribbean Sea.Which beaches in Florida will be affected by sargassum? ›
Sargassum In Florida
On the East Coast, Cocoa Beach has been one of the most popular beaches now covered with Sargassum seaweed. According to travelers at the beach, it is there in large amounts.
Most of the mass, known as the great Atlantic sargassum belt, is headed to the Caribbean Sea. Some parts are likely to wash onto Florida beaches, and the rest will show up elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi in the U.S. and along Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.How do you stop sargassum? ›
Exclusion booming. Elastec has taken this approach due to the minimal impact. Exclusion booms or barriers are moored in selected locations to keep the Sargassum seaweed off the beach where it will move with the wind and current either back to sea or down the coast.Will there be seaweed in Cancun beaches in 2023? ›
According to a recent analysis by the University of Southern Florida, 2023 might see some of the highest sargassum levels on record. Up to 6 million tons of sargassum seaweed is currently afloat in the Atlantic ocean based on data gathered by NASA and several universities.Is there sargassum in October? ›
Sargassum season usually runs from March until October, but major landfalls this year began in January, particularly in Mexico, Florida and parts of the Caribbean.Where is sargassum in June? ›
More Seaweed Expected
Oceanography professor Dr. Chuanmin Hu said: “When we enter the summer months, by end of May or early June, I'd expect more sargassum along the ocean side of the Florida Keys and the east coast of Florida.” More masses of sargassum seaweed could be coming from the eastern Atlantic.
In the Quintana Roo region —where Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other popular beach destinations are located— more sargassum is expected as the season's peak is usually between June and August. Many American travelers considering Cancun for their next vacations should bear in mind the current sargassum situation.What months does sargassum occur? ›
Tulum, Mexico has a history of receiving influxes of sargassum seaweed during seaweed season. Seaweed season is generally between May and October.
Nearly every year since 2011, sargassum has inundated Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Florida coastlines in warm months, peaking in June and July.Where is the sargassum Belt currently? ›
Sargassum grows in the calm, clear waters of the Sargasso Sea – a 2 million-square-nautical-mile (5.2 million-square-kilometer) haven of biodiversity that lies east of Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than beaches, it's bounded by rotating ocean currents that form the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre.Where is the best beach in Mexico without seaweed? ›
The most well-known beach that's expected to remain free of sargassum, for now, is Playa Norte, located on the Isla Mujeres. Consistently regarded as one of the best beaches in the world, Playa Norte is renowned for its typical crystal-clear waters and white sands that look like they've come straight from a postcard.Is Cancun OK in June? ›
Expect average daily temperatures of 82-87°F (28-31°C) when visiting Cancun in June. When the sun goes down, the temperatures in Cancun drop, but not by much. Nighttime temperatures in Cancun average about 77-80°F (25-27°C), though the humidity usually isn't as bad as in the day.How long will sargassum last? ›
Florida's seaweed season typically runs from April until October, peaking in June and July. The seaweed comes in waves, depending on currents and wind direction.How long does sargassum stay around? ›
Sargassum seaweed season lasts around 6 months in Mexico.Is seaweed headed to Florida 2023? ›
USF reports it remains difficult to predict exact timing and location for individual beaching events but substantial amounts of the seaweed are expected in May in both the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. June is forecast to be the likely peak of the 2023 season, but impacts are expected to continue into July.Can you swim when there is sargassum? ›
✓ Avoid touching or swimming near seaweed to avoid stinging by organisms that live in it. ✓ Use gloves if you must handle seaweed. ✓ Stay away from the beach if you experience irritation or breathing problems from hydrogen sulfide—at least until symptoms go away.What beaches are affected by sargassum? ›
The huge mass of sargassum is the latest in a series of massive blooms scientists have noticed in the Atlantic since 2011 but could be the largest yet. It is pushing west through the Caribbean and beaches in Cancún, Mexico, and Key West, Florida, have already seen large mats wash ashore.