The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a mass of seaweed that stretches from Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, caused concern earlier this year when scientists worried about the potential impact on Florida beaches. However, recent research conducted by the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Laboratory has shown that the massive, foul-smelling seaweed bloom was significantly reduced in size.
According to an October report, there was an estimated 0.15 million metric tons of sargassum algae in the Caribbean Sea throughout the month, with much of it gone by the end of October. There was also very little sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico, and almost half of the sargassum in the central Atlantic was west of the African coast. These abundances are much lower compared to previous years, even for this time of year. Scientists believe that minimum sargassum will be present in all regions in November and hinted that first signs may appear in December if there is a new sargassum bloom in 2024.
The latest report and updates on the sargassum situation can be found on the University of South Florida website. Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells discusses this phenomenon with one of the researchers studying it in an episode titled “Talk to Tom.” This positive development means that concerns about rotten egg smell caused by toxic gas carried by Vibrio bacteria have been eased as well as concerns about people with respiratory problems being affected by it.