Sargassum was named by the Portuguese sailors who found it in the Sargasso Sea.
Sargassum is a grass that floats on the surface of the ocean. This grass is an integral part of the ecosystem as it provides cover to smaller fish that are often the target of predators.
Down here in the Florida Keys, there has been a lot of media coverage about the latest sargassum grass bloom. Media outlets have been publishing articles about a giant “blob” of seaweed heading for Florida for about a month. The New York Times just published an article about it today.
Sargassum is a pelagic brow algae. Notice the berry-like structures which cause the plant to float.
The bloom gets a bit larger every year, stretching thousands of miles from Africa to Mexico. Located in the heart of the Florida Keys, we receive daily phone calls, emails, and texts from customers planning a trip to Florida. When they call to inquire about our sightseeing or fishing charters, they ask what we think about the coverage of the sargassum on the news.
Our answer is that we are tough cookies here in the Florida Keys. We deal with cold fronts, high winds on occasion, hurricane season, and many other curve balls over the years. We have endured weather and environmental incidents many times, and when the grass shows, we will deal with that too!
The seaweed bloom is a natural annual occurrence stretching from West Africa to South Florida. Reports are currently saying the bloom is due to a multitude of factors. Some of these factors are naturally occurring, and others not so much. Experts say that river runoff in other countries and climate change is making the bloom exceptionally large this year. Researchers calculate that this year’s patch of grass is 5,000 miles long and weighs as much as 11 million tons!
The other question we are being asked is, will the seaweed bloom come to the Florida Keys? Simply put, yes. We are seeing signs of it already all, be it in smaller doses.
Some clients are asking, Will the bloom shut down Florida beaches, fishing, and other water activities?
As of now, there is no anticipated closure of anything. The seaweed bloom comes in waves, not in one massive section. The entire Florida Keys checks satellite imagery and beaches daily. Alyson Crean, a spokeswoman for the city of Key West, was recently quoted on Fox Weather saying that the city contracts with a company to remove the seaweed that washes up under normal blooms. They are prepared this year for a heavier load of grass to be removed.
Just a couple days ago Fox News reported a bunch of grass washed up on Coco plum beach right here in Marathon and two days later everything is fine. There is no need to panic!
Courtesy of a recent Fox News report about coco plum beach in Marathon, Florida.
Just like a hurricane, the exact path is unknown. Weather, ocean currents, and temperatures control where this seaweed will go. Reports even show that it may split in half, and some of the seaweed may come up the east coast and some toward the Gulf waters away from the Florida Keys.
Kevin Wilson, the assistant Monroe County manager, was quoted on Fla-keys.com as saying, “We are ready!”
So far we have only seen some grass wash up on our beaches now and again.
At Manicsportfishing Charters in Marathon, Florida, we are also ready! We encourage our customers to read articles relating to the seaweed and decide for themselves. After reading the reports and opinions, we are confident you will still be coming to the amazing Florida Keys! Our clients have been swimming, fishing, snorkeling, and sightseeing daily.
We also continue to monitor satellite images and will plan our fishing charters, snorkel, and sightseeing tours accordingly.
As mentioned before sargassum grass holds a lot of bait, and we look forward to a great summer of catching huge mahi, tuna, and wahoo off those weed lines!
Some bait fish hide in sargassum grass and some try to hide in tightly packed schools called bait-balls as seen here.
There is a saying here in the Florida Keys, Keys strong! The folks that live and make a living on this island are hardworking, well-prepared people that have survived many big storms and weather events. Seaweed is not going to stop us from doing what we do best! That can-do attitude is why we are blessed with so many visitors from around the world.
We hope to hear from more new customers and look forward to taking you out on the water to make some beautiful memories. If you would like to fish with us, snorkel, or have a sunset cruise feel free to visit our contact page or book your trip right here on our website. Here’s to a great summer fishing season in the Florida Keys!
Captain Greg Fabrizi