Miami: Seaweed invades South Florida beaches

Stay up to date with the latest on Miami seaweed conditions and sargassum forecast updates reports in Florida, United States.

Miami: Seaweed invades South Florida beaches
Sargassum weeds are affecting Florida's beaches. Photo by Hristina ҆atalova / Unsplash

From south to north, due to the presence of seaweed on the Miami Beach beaches, visitors face a different panorama. According to experts, finding large seaweed on the U.S. Atlantic coast is becoming increasingly common.

Tourists are frightened by tons of sargassum on the beach in Miami

The beaches of Miami Beach have been invaded by tons of sargassum this summer, which scares tourists who go along the white sands of South Florida; it is not only the presence of the macroalgae but also because of the foul odor produced by the macroalgae.

"In June, we had a record high of sargassum compared to any year on record," said Chuanim Hu, professor at the oceanography lab at the University of South Florida. Although some beaches are clean, you can see the sargassum slick approaching the beaches, so Chuanim believes that the strategy is to "collect the sargassum before it reaches the shore and put it to better use."

During May, 18 million tons of seaweed were collected on the east coast of Florida to Maine, and increased for June to 24 million, a steady increase since 2011, as reported by Miami Diario.

Mexican Caribbean beaches are also affected by this natural phenomenon. The massive sargassum landfall had covered Delfines Beach entirely in Cancun. To this beach, the most affected in Cancun, more than 165 tons of the macroalgae arrived, but until Monday, according to monitoring, another large stain was about to come.

"For several days, we have had a stain. More seaweed continues to arrive from the sea. It caused us many problems. We removed 165 tons of sargassum in two days," explained the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone director in Cancun.

Sargassum Seaweed Blooms in Florida. USF College of Marine Science
Sargassum Seaweed Blooms in Florida. USF College of Marine Science - University of South Florida

Sargassum takes over South Florida beaches.

The arrival of sargassum on South Florida beaches has become a big problem for residents and tourists. Local authorities have devised a plan to remove these foul-smelling seaweeds from beaches. Sargassum is a natural brown seaweed that floats in the Atlantic Ocean and washes yearly on Florida's beaches. They come from an extensive belt in the tropical Atlantic from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico.

Once it reaches the coast and stays there for days, it begins to decompose, and a very unpleasant odor, like rotten eggs, permeates the area. Seaweed scares tourists and residents away from our beaches, as some find it distasteful to bathe and enjoy the sea in these conditions. The situation has become a problem during the last few years due to the increased amount of seaweed in Florida. Researchers and scientists from the University of South Florida (USF) have observed and warned local authorities about this increase.

Although the causes are not fully known, researchers have linked an increase in temperature and nutrients in the sea to the rise of these algae on Florida's coasts. To keep our beaches clean, the city of Miami Beach began burying these weeds in the sand to prevent odor on the beaches.

The process caused even more significant problems when they realized that the gases released by the decomposing sargassum were seriously affecting the ecosystem of the local beaches. As a result, in conjunction with Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach has had to allocate funds to remove from the sand the large concentrations of these algae that wash up on Florida beaches.

The Fort Lauderdale government has created another plan by collecting the seaweed and taking it to an open space where it is left to mature for 90 days and become rich soil. Then planting projects in the city utilize it.

How you can help turtle hatchlings trapped in the sargassum on Florida beaches

The sargassum that accumulates on Florida beaches is a problem for turtle hatchlings. On their way to the sea, they get trapped in the seaweed and can lose their lives. Here's what you can do to help them.

From May to October sea turtles come to nest on Florida's shores. Around this time sea turtles come to our shores, dig a nest, lay their eggs, and return to the sea. After a while, those eggs hatch, and the turtle hatchlings begin to leave their nests on their way to the sea.

The problem is that huge concentrations of sargassum accumulate on Florida beaches, both on the sand and on the seashore, trapping the little turtles which are unable to reach their final destination. As a resident or visitor of these beaches, you can help the turtles. To do so, follow these steps:

Do not touch them.
Report them immediately to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Call 888-404-3922 or
Write to www.miamiwaterkeeper.org/report