MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Floridians know the awful stench of seaweed in their local beaches all too well and a new study finds the annoying seagrass is sticking around even longer.
The University of South Florida released a report on Thursday, suggesting the pungent, slimy seaweed, known as sargassum, is on track to continue to be just as bad for coastal regions as in the past.READ MORE: Condo Collapse: Families Anxiously Await Word On Loved Ones
The university’s team, which includes Mengqiu Wang, discovered in satellite images that areas of this type of seaweed stretched across surface waters from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. They estimated that it weighed more than 20 million tons.
“The oceans are connected across the regions and we are going to see more sargassum coming to the Florida coast,” Wang said. “It is not fatal, it is not poisoning tides; it is more of a public nuisance and can cause some public health concerns.”
The study says sargassum, which turns clear seawater brown, has been an issue since 2011. Apart from 2013, each year the seaweed returned in larger quantities on beaches throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. Some places, such as Miami Beach, have had so much sargassum at times that swimmers are blocked from entering the water.READ MORE: Condo Collapse: Crews Worked Through The Night To Find Survivors
The thick seaweed also releases hydrogen sulfide gas that smells like rotten eggs, which can cause problems for those with respiratory issues.
Donald Johnson, a senior research scientist on ocean circulation at the University of Southern Mississippi, said satellite usage is one of the only ways to capture the enormous scale of sargassum.
Wang said that climate change also played a role. Rising seawaters and an increase in nutrients from river sources, such as the Amazon River, making its way to the sea, causing the sargassum to increase in growth.MORE NEWS: President Biden Declares State Of Emergency In Florida After Surfside Condo Collapse
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)