Deadly Sargassum Bloom?
According to Insider, a 5,000-mile-long Sargassum seaweed bloom, possibly the largest ever, along the Caribbean and the Florida coast could be devastating for both marine life and public health when it washes ashore. Vibrio bacteria that live in the Sargassum can stick to plastic marine debris and carry potentially pathogenic genes. These genes can cause rare flesh-eating infections, although ingesting the bacteria can cause a less horrific illness with symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and vomiting.
To keep the public safe, people should be aware of the danger these seaweed present, and extreme caution should be exercised in harvesting and processing Sargassum. Some experts believe that most Vibrio are harmless and won’t cause a huge issue, but those on the beach should still be aware of the bacteria in the seaweed.
While humans are impacted by the seaweed, Sargassum can also “destroy coastal ecosystems, suffocate coral, harm wildlife, threaten infrastructure, and decrease air quality.” The rotting of the seaweed also creates a powerful odor, causing problems in the tourism industries.
The biggest takeaway for beach-goers, especially children, is to take caution around Sargassum and stay away from it, rather than go play in it.