By Rielle Creighton

MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Even though today will not be a beach day, expect to see plenty of activity on Miami Beach.

The county has brought in heavy machinery, including bulldozers, front-end loaders and dump trucks to remove mounds and mounds of seaweed that has been taking over our beaches.

Miami Beach residents Maria Tapanes and her husband have been living here for more than 60 years and they have never seen it this bad.

“You can see it all brown. You are afraid it can give you a disease,” said Tapanes.

The county must obtain a weekly permit from fish and wildlife officials to clean the beaches.

County officials talked about the issue.

“We have always had seaweed. I used to play in it when I was a kid, but not to this magnitude and not to this environmental mess,” said Sally Heyman, County Commissioner.

“In the short term, we have an emergency plan. In the long term, we have to look at environmental causes,” said County Commissioner Daniella Cava.

The open water Sargassum seaweed does make regular appearances on our local beaches but not in this volume.

CBS4 Chopper images showed miles of seaweed.

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.

Daily clean up couldn’t keep up with it and tourism boosters called it a crisis, so Miami-dade County, which controls the beach, is coming to the rescue. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has approved an emergency contract for the removal of Sargassum on beaches with the most accumulation.

“Thankfully the county is stepping up to the plate and helping us to remediate the seaweed coming onshore,” said Vice Mayor Ricky Arriola.

Rielle Creighton

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