Destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean have been dealing with an influx of Sargassum seaweed in recent years, but South Florida is now being inundated by the annoying plant life as well.
According to NBC Miami, Florida International University professor Dr. Stephen Leatherman said that while the seaweed is good for fish life when it’s at sea, the stinky Sargassum is now coating Florida coastlines.
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Tourism is a major driving factor for the local economies along the Florida coast, and many residents fear the seaweed could deter travelers from visiting the beaches, just as it has in Mexico and the Caribbean.
“People don’t like it. It stinks,” Dr. Leatherman told MBC Miami. “It attracts flies and it smells like rotten eggs and it’s very unpleasant. So, I can say this, it’s going to really cut down tourism.”
The abundance of Sargassum in other areas has resulted in boats being unable to pull out of port, swimmers along the coast being unable to get to the water and sea life like turtles being unable to get ashore to lay their eggs.
While city and county beach crews typically plow the beaches in the early morning hours, the abundance of the seaweed is causing large deposits that can’t be buried. The rotting plant then produces the hydrogen sulfide that is the source of the rotten-egg smell.
In Miami-Dade County alone, officials estimate it could cost as much as $45 million a year to clear the Sargassum from the beaches. Dr. Leatherman said constant beach cleaning isn’t sustainable, so options are limited.