MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County will begin a battle this week against Sargassum seaweed. If you have been to Miami Beach lately, there is a good chance you have seen the piles of Sargassum seaweed on the shoreline and in the water.
Sargassum is a naturally occurring, free-floating seaweed that grows in open water.
Experts say while it is an important resource which protects marine life, such as endangered baby sea turtles from predators, when it accumulates on the beaches, it becomes a smelly, rotting problem. That problem isn’t just for beach-goers but also the same baby sea turtles which could get trapped in the seaweed and never make it into the ocean.
That is why Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has approved an emergency contract for the removal of Sargassum on beaches with the most accumulation.
The Mayor also requested an extended clean-up permit from Governor Ron DeSantis.
This emergency measure will provide resources until the end of the current fiscal year as the County identifies additional resources for fiscal 2019-20.
The County plans to use bulldozers, front-end loaders and dump trucks to scoop up the unwanted seaweed and haul it away.
According to CBS4 News Partner The Miami Herald, the daily seaweed influx is broad enough that Miami-Dade doesn’t have much hope to clear all of the 15 miles of coast cleaned by the county’s Parks Department, including Miami Beach.
A June presentation by Parks to county and city administrators estimated daily removal of seaweed from the entire beach would cost about $45 million a year, and require 880 truck trips hauling enough grass to fill a football field 10 feet high.
Mayor Gimenez told county commissioners last week that the seaweed issue is a “crisis” that could hurt Miami tourism.
Sargassum spreads in warmer waters, so scientists see climate change as making the current inundation worse.