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Researchers tracking the giant seaweed cluster in the Gulf of Mexico

Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 17, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coastal Bend has seen pockets of sargassum, more commonly known as seaweed, wash up in the past. 

But this year researchers have been keeping a close eye on satellite images showing a massive body of sargassum traveling from West Africa.

Right now, ocean currents are pushing it out west, causing hundreds of tons of sargassum to wash up on beaches across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Quinn Hendrick with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries will expect there to be short term effects if it lands here. 

“It does start to decompose and smell. We’ve seen respiratory issues come from bloom in the past,” Hendrick said. 

Then there are economic concerns. In Aransas Pass, local shrimping business Erikson and Jensen Seafood has a fleet stationed in Florida, catching gulf shrimp from Florida to Texas. 

The owner, Grant Erikson, tells Action 10 News they will mainly stay in Texas waters because of the seaweed near the Florida coast makes it impossible to catch anything. 

Fishermen have the same problem. Donald Morris, a visiting fisherman, said its not fun reeling in seaweed. 

“It’s enough to agitate you. People come down here to fish and you can’t fish with the seaweed here,” Morris said. 

There’s a lot that can’t been done with a sargassum invasion. 

“It’ll mess up the fishing everywhere but for people with boats- that’s their livelihood, they have to make money. These people are going to have no money to pay rent,” Morris said. 

While Florida braces for the arrival of this slimy seaweed. Researchers will continue to track where this sargassum cluster will land next.