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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Covered in seaweed is not how we like to see our South Florida beaches.
“It looks like a dirty beach,” laughed Julian Franco. It’s not dirty, it’s just covered in Sargassum seaweed, and there’s plenty of it.
It has some people staying out of the water at Mizell-Johnson State Park in Hollywood.
Priscilla Lopez came to the beach with her mom to test out her new snorkeling gear, instead, she’s heading to the pool. “When we were in the water there was seaweed on the floor and seaweed around us and it on our legs and on our hips,” she said.
For many people swimming with the seaweed just feels gross. “You want to have a nice dip in the ocean and cool off from the hot sun and you have seaweed wrapping around your knees and ankles,” said tourist Osak Omulepu. “You don’t know if it’s fish, or a shark or what.”
Dr. Stephen Leatherman from FIU, Better known as Dr. Beach, explains why it’s here. “Typically most seaweed stays far offshore but with the type of winds we’ve had recently it’s just blowing more of the seaweed ashore and stacking up on the beaches,” he said.
The build-up was pretty bad last week, but changing winds are making it much more bearable, with much of it staying just offshore. At the state park, they don’t plow it under like most places do, so you see more here. “I’m the glad that the state has decided not to clean it up, not to make it pristine because that’s so artificial, Sonia Omulepu said.
Sonia’s visiting from New York. She knows there are some benefits to the nuisance seaweed. It traps small crabs for birds to eat and there are other uses too. “Broward county they tend to gather it up and put it in an area where fresh water can wash the salt out of it and it makes an excellent mulch,” said Dr. Beach.
Dr. Beach says it’s not dangerous, just annoying, but apparently not for everyone. “Although it’s icky on our skin it’s still a wonderful thing, it’s God’s creation,” said Sonia. “We are God’s creation, let’s enjoy it.”
The big question now, how long can we expect to see this seaweed on our South Florida Beaches. According to some experts, they say it’s hard to predict but could hang around until 2019.