Beaches in Florida flooded with brown algae: they are dangerous to people
Beach lovers in Florida are in for a not very pleasant surprise - huge brown clumps of algae filled the ponds. What is this algae and are they dangerous, the publication found out USA Today.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, these brown algae are called Sargassum. This type of macroalgae floats in large masses. In water, Sargassum is considered harmless to humans.
Sargassum usually appears in the spring, and their "season" lasts until about August.
What is sargassum
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Sargassum is a brown seaweed that swims in large masses. The algae never reaches the bottom of the ocean because it has berry-like bubbles. They are called pneumatocysts, they are filled with oxygen and make the mass buoyant, writes CBS News.
On land, the algae begin to rot and release stinky hydrogen sulfide and ammonia that can irritate the eyes, ears, and nose. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions may experience breathing problems if they inhale too much of this substance. However, in open areas such as beaches, the moving air will usually dilute the gas to a non-hazardous level.
This algae, despite having an extremely unpleasant odor, actually helps many migrating sea creatures such as turtles, crabs and fish by providing them with a habitat.
How to protect yourself from Sargassum
There are rumors that seaweed causes cancer in humans. In fact, this is not so. However, the Florida Department of Health warns against eating it as it may contain arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals.
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The department says children should always be supervised on the beach and beachgoers should avoid swimming near the seaweed. While not dangerous to touch, animals such as stinging jellyfish can live in them and harm swimmers.
The department said people who work with algae should still wear gloves. And those who have breathing problems should avoid the beach or limit the time spent on them. And for those who live near the beach, the department advises to close doors and windows.
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