Tampa Bay beachgoers shouldn’t fear “giant blob of seaweed”

Sargassum algae bloom Puerto Rico Culebra

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An extremely large mass of algae that can stretch miles is set to wash up on Florida’s beaches in coming months. Luckily, its effect on Tampa Bay will be minimal.

Sargassum is a large, brown algae that floats in island-like masses and never attaches to the seafloor. In small amounts, it’s no concern, but now there is a giant mass headed toward Florida. Once it reaches the shore, it begins to rot, smells of rotten eggs, and irritates skin upon contact. It’s unsightly and takes up space on beaches.

However, Brian Barnes, research assistant professor at USF College of Marine Science, says Tampa Bay residents have no need to fear.

“The confusion comes from, you know, it’s moving west so everyone thinks it’s going to then be on the west side of Florida, and while it is in the Gulf of Mexico, on the west side of Florida, the currents don’t push it onto the shelf and into Tampa area beaches or anything like that,” Barnes told WMNF News.

He said that Florida’s southeast coast and the Florida Keys should expect Sargassum on their beaches, but Tampa Bay beachgoers should look out for other concerns.

“We’re currently having a red tide bloom in the Tampa bay area. You know you do want to check and look at conditions of not just this Sargassum bloom but other blooms too before you travel.” Barnes warned.