Ick seaweed in Florida
June 21, 2012 4:08 PM   Subscribe

oceanography Filter: Is this new seaweed permanent?

I am staying in Pensacola Beach, Florida on vacation and have come here for many years, skipping the last 2 years because of the oil spill. Normally the water on the gulf coast here is clear and free of debris. The water is filled with little torn up pieces of seaweed. The water is so concentrated that it just gets everywhere and easily gets stuck in your hair. I am used to large clumps of seaweed, but not when it is saturated like this.

What is the cause of this? I am wondering if this is permanent after the oil spill or maybe due to the large amount of rainfall or possibly just certain times of the year or month cause a migration of seaweed and plankton.
posted by Jaelma24 to Science & Nature (3 answers total)
They're torn up 'leaves'? Is it the same kind of seaweed that you've seen before?

A different kind of seaweed (I'm think of big green pieces vs. little black rectangles that have been common at different beaches I've been to) could also have been a switch in the seaweed species due to either the oil, or more likely, temperature. But I'm not familiar with any news about changes to seaweed in the Gulf and some of my friends are heavily involved with sampling various sea creatures down there.

My best guess is there has been a switch in where the currents are (see this for information about the "loop current" in the Gulf of Mexico) and it has changed what washes up on the beach.
posted by hydrobatidae at 4:29 PM on June 21, 2012

The seaweed is more like the size of a gumball, but in the shape of a jack (Thin tendrals joined together) The seaweed is very soft and you cannot feel it when you are in the ocean and when I mean saturated, I mean there is about 1 per square inch. They are not clumped together but just even distributed.
posted by Jaelma24 at 8:48 AM on June 22, 2012

From my brother who is a marine biologist in Pensacola: strong southerly winds will blow the sargassum weed towards shore and our beaches, it has nothing to do with the oil spill. they need to take a minute and look at all the cool little creatures that live in those piles, also they are nursery habitats for large game fish like swordfish, sailfish and mahi mahi. they can swim on the sound-side to avoid the sargassum and enjoy calm, warm water.
posted by HeyAllie at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2012

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