Smelly Sargassum seaweed may soon wash ashore at a Gulf beach near you

Xavier Roger


If you’re heading to a beach in Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Caribbean this summer, you may find yourself stepping over part of the massive Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt – enormous mats of brown seaweed washed up on shore after floating for months in the ocean.

Even if you don’t walk on it, it may affect your beach stroll. Sargassum rots after it washes ashore and produces hydrogen sulfide gas, which smells like rotten eggs and can irritate your eyes, nose and throat.

The seaweed has existed for centuries, but climate change and inflows of nitrogen and man-made fertilizer from rivers have caused exponential growth over the past decade.


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