An enormous carpet of seaweed stretching 5,000 miles (about 8,047 kilometres), about twice the width of the United States, is set to cause problems along the beaches of Florida and Mexico, as scientists become increasingly concerned about the algae’s effects. According to a report in NBC News, the raft of brown seaweed in the Atlantic Ocean is so vast that it can be seen from space.
The algae bloom known as the “Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt” spans from the coast of West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. It weighs over 20 million tonnes and is the largest seaweed bloom on Earth.
In open water, these algae are usually safe and even beneficial, acting as a habitat for some fish, and crustaceans and absorbing carbon dioxide, among other things. However, sargassum is being pushed west by ocean currents, and as a result, masses of seaweed are washing up on beaches in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, as per the outlet. Its rotting can suffocate corals, devastate coastal ecosystems and reduce the quality of the water.
Experts have warned that this year’s bloom is particularly alarming as “invasions of beaches in the coming weeks and months could be particularly severe”. Brian LaPointe, a Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, told the outlet, “It’s incredible. What we’re seeing in the satellite imagery does not bode well for a clean beach year.”
Despite the piles typically washing ashore in May, he explained that beaches in Key West are already covered in the algae. Beaches in Mexico, including those in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, are gearing up for a significant sargassum buildup this week.
Subscribe to GreatGameIndia
Algae is an ideal replacement for meat, according to the WEF since it has a carbon-negative profile and is rich in essential fatty acids and high vitamin and antioxidants content. Now, the World Economic Forum is urging people to eat seaweed, algae and cacti in order to save the planet.
If you’re curious to delve deeper into the topic, read more about it here.