Florida beaches could see record-breaking seaweed bloom

Researchers are watching a record amount of smelly seaweed called sargassum build up in the Atlantic. It will most likely end up on Florida beaches.

Last July, heaps of brown seaweed inundated beaches in Brevard County. "It stinks," said Brian Barnes, a researcher at USF's Optical Oceanography Laboratory. "As it starts to decompose, it releases hydrogen sulfite."

It's bad for beachgoers and can be bad for the environment. People at Jetty Park speaking to FOX 35 said they're hoping it will stay away. 

"I’m hoping to avoid it," said Logan Schottland. "This has been our surf spot."

"I’m sensitive to smells, so probably wouldn’t be for me, especially because this is my first time in Florida," said Michael Holland.

Throughout the year, seaweed makes its way across the ocean. Researchers have noticed huge amounts of it gathering in the Caribbean this year. "We’re really looking at the biggest, probably the biggest event that we’ve ever seen," Barnes said.

Barnes says the patch has doubled in size over the past couple of months. Barnes and his team have been studying possible causes for the increase, like changes to the environment and water circulation patterns. They're also working to more accurately predict where it will end up. "Looking at the trends, our best guess is it’s going to be a record year," Barnes said. "The question is almost how much of a record it’s going to be."

Barnes told FOX 35 there have already been reports of the seaweed washing up in the Florida Keys.

He said the most noticeable impacts won't come until the summer.