What happened to that giant sargassum seaweed blob headed for Florida? It shrunk, scientists say

Seaweed abundance quite small now, USF report says

Sargassum seaweed, Daytona Beach (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla. – That giant blob of stinky seaweed that was headed to Florida earlier this year has shrunk, and what’s out there is less than scientists have seen in recent years.

That’s according to a report by researchers at the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab.

The report for October says there was an estimated .15 million metric tons of sargassum seaweed detected in the Caribbean Sea throughout the month, and much of it had dissipated by the end of October. There was also very little sargassum overall in the Gulf of Mexico, and nearly half of the sargassum in the Central Atlantic was situated west of the African coast.

“Even for this time of year, these abundances are quite small compared to recent years,” the report said. The latest report can be read on the USF website.

Scientists say minimal sargassum is expected in all regions in November. If there is going to be a new bloom for 2024, the first indications will appear in December.

The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a mass of seaweed stretching from Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, caused quite a stink online earlier this year when scientists were concerned the belt would leave large amounts of seaweed on Florida beaches, leaving a smell of rotten eggs, caused by a toxic gas that can be a problem for people with respiratory issues.

Scientists say there was evidence the seaweed was carrying Vibrio, a flesh-eating bacteria.

But in June and July, indications showed the blob was shrinking and moving.

News 6 Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells talked to one of the researchers studying the sargassum belt back in April on “Talk to Tom.” Watch that episode below.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.