New plan to sink massive 5,000-mile-wide seaweed blob headed to Florida

Professor explains idea to keep stinky sargassum off beach

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.

Lapointe has years of experience studying seagrass and water quality. He recently joined News 6 Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells on an episode of Talk To Tom to discuss the unusually large gathering of seaweed heading towards our state and solutions to what could soon become a smelly problem.

Lapointe said an option that is being looked at right now and tested in the Dominican Republic and Antigua is, “sinking it offshore before it even gets close to land.”

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“What you do, basically, you circle these large patches of Sargassum with a net, you bring it up to a big work boat and you sink it with a pump down to a point, a depth where the air bladders compress and at that point, it becomes negatively buoyant and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, you know, a thousand meters or more down,” he said.

He said this plan doesn’t just offer hope for beaches, but for the environment as well.

“It locks away carbon fixed by the Sargassum that can chip away at the CO2 buildup in the atmosphere, something like carbon sequestration,” Lapointe said.

Lapointe said other plans include, “putting booms out to try to hold it off the beach, and then harvest it along the booms.”

But he added so far the plan has not been very successful.

To hear more from Lapointe about what is causing such rapid growth and what can be done to protect our beaches listen to the full episode of Talk To Tom. You can watch every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. or anytime on News 6+.

About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.