On the coast of South Florida, beds of foul-smelling, rotting seaweed are washing up in massive quantities. The seaweed is cloaking the entire beach sand as though a brown carpet. It is troubling the tourists as they try to take a stroll on the beach, keeping a lot of them at bay.
Lubel Ivanov, a beach visitor hailing from Dallas said the condition is terrible, but it is nature.
The recent invasion of seaweeds is distressing local authorities who are worried that it might affect its profitable tourism industry, which is mainly dependent on its sunny, pristine beaches.
Although the algae are not necessarily poisonous to humans, it proves to be a gigantic problem to the 16 million travelers visiting each year — and spending approximately $30 billion in the entire process. Tourism officials are concerned if the tourists would still show up if they can’t visit the beaches fully.
Dan Gelber, Miami Beach Mayor said that the seaweed has definitely been a challenge to tackle and they are going to deal with it. He further said they are the Miami Beach and it’s really important for them to take care of the situation for their residents and tourists.
Officials from Miami-Dade County might have to spend millions of dollars a year in beach cleanup expenses to attempt to save the tourism industry of Miami. County authorities gave a presentation in June predicting it would cost nearly $35 to $45 million a year to remove the seaweed.
Cleanup crews in South Florida have targeted beach regions with the largest buildup of sargassum seaweed since the end of last week. The crew is using bulldozers and dump trucks to scoop all the seaweed from the sand and halt it out.
As per the officials of Miami-Dade County, the crews work early in the morning and wrap up the cleaning process by nearly 10:30 A.M before the tourists and other beach visitors arrive.
The South beach almost looks like a construction zone while the cleaning process is carried out, with bulldozers and hefty machinery surrounding the shore, doing their work while beach visitors and tourists soak in the water. According to the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, it is uprooting the seaweed from the beaches and transporting it to a landfill.
The seaweed also acts as a waste trap, collecting everything from flies to trash to everything that washes up on the shore. Scientists report that this issue has been aggravating every year since 2011 and that it has reached its peak now.
Apart from Florida, the rotten plants are also sprawling through the beaches in three other states: Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas, along with countries like Barbados and Mexico.