PHOTO: IVAN SANTIAGO
Over a thousand square miles of smelly seaweed invading South Florida’s beaches is likely to put a damper on your beach day this summer. Most of this year’s nuisance is courtesy of the Sargassum species which is actually an algae known to smell like rotting eggs and present a danger to marine life.
According to marine fish expert Dr. Bob Shipp, the Gulf has the second largest concentration of sargassum of any body of water in the world.
Scientists are preparing for a recurring invasion of Sargassum seaweed according to Weather.com and predict this year’s bout may last through 2019. The sargassum crisis of 2018 represents a real threat for the entire Caribbean, whose economy is mainly based on tourism revenues. The eastern Caribbean island of Barbados declared a national emergency earlier this year.
Here in Hollywood, Public Works Director Sylvia Glazer recently responded to concerns from members of the Hollywood Beach Civic Association. The slimy brown stuff with berrylike air bladders forms large floating masses that drive tourists away.
Glazer explained that the problem with constantly trying to remove seaweed is that it’s expensive and labor intensive. Efforts to control the seaweed also remove precious sand from the beach along with seaweed.
“As quickly as you bury or remove it, more floats in right behind it,” said Glazer. “This year and last year have been particularly bad.”
Glazer explained that the City tries to not remove the seaweed, rather they bury it to create a barrier under the sand that helps prevent beach erosion and provides nutrients to the sea-life.
The City has been approved to hire another equipment operator in the upcoming budget year to assist in cleaning and sifting the beach sand to remove debris and bury seaweed.