Washed Up Seaweed Called Sargassum Could Cause Harm 

Clumps of sargassum floating on the surface of the water.

A huge mass of seaweed is floating in the open ocean near Florida. The brown, leafy seaweed is called sargassum. It comes from the Sargasso Sea, an area of the Atlantic Ocean. Some seaweed grows on the ocean floor. Sargassum floats on the surface of the water. Sargassum is usually found on the coastline during the summer. This is when it washes up on the beaches. But the size of this year’s seaweed bloom has scientists concerned. The seaweed bloom is 5,000 miles long. That is double the size of our country from coast to coast! Large amounts of sargassum on the beaches could impact our health and the environment.

Large amounts of sargassum being removed from the beach.

Sargassum has air-filled structures that help keep it afloat. It provides an important habitat for many forms of marine life. But sargassum can also cause problems. Piles of seaweed are very heavy. They can suffocate wildlife. Sargassum decomposes when it piles up on the beach. It produces an odor that smells like dead fish or rotten eggs. The smell is from a gas that can irritate peoples’ eyes and throat. Large amounts of sargassum can harm humans and wildlife that live on the coast.

What Can You Do?  With a partner, construct a poster to warn visitors of the dangers of the dangers of sargassum. Share with others.

Photo Credit: (t)(c) Steven P. Lynch, (b)Marc Bruxelle/Alamy Stock Photo