Massive 5,000-mile-wide seaweed blob heading toward Florida

Sargassum bloom could be one of the largest in history

(FILE) Mats of floating Sargassum provide a habitat for marine life and can trap sand on the beach, however too much of it can be a problem for beachgoers. (wjxt)

A massive seaweed blob so large that it is visible from space is heading towards the Florida Gulf coast.

According to WFLA-TV, the 5,000 mile-wide sargassum bloom could be one of the largest in history.

The brown seaweed that floats in the ocean and is washes up on Florida beaches in large amounts provides an important habitat for migratory organisms – including crab, shrimp, sea turtles, and commercially important fish species such as tuna and marlin, according to Florida Health.

The thick algae mat that drifts between the Atlantic coast of Africa and the Gulf of Mexico can wreak havoc when when it gets closer to shore. It blocks light from reaching coral and negatively impacts air and water quality as it decomposes.

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Decomposing sargassum can create a foul smell when it starts to decompose along the beaches. As it rots, it gives off a substance called hydrogen sulfide, creating an odor akin to rotten eggs.

Although the seaweed itself cannot harm your health – according to Florida Health – tiny sea creatures that live in sargassum can cause skin rashes and blisters.

The Gulf Coast is already dealing with a flare-up of the toxic red tide algae with residents are complaining about burning eyes and breathing problems.

Dead fish have washed up on beaches and a beachside festival has been canceled, even though it wasn’t scheduled for another month.

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About the Author:

Jacob joined in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.