COCOA BEACH, Florida — Massive amounts of sargassum seaweed have washed ashore along Florida’s east coast this week from Miami Beach to Palm Beach to Cocoa Beach to Daytona Beach.
This large amount of seaweed is an annual occurrence that often happens during the summer months.
When seaweed piles up along the high tide line, it is called a ‘wrack zone’ or ‘wrack line’ which plays an important ecological role as a valuable food webs source to beach wildlife, especially shorebirds that eat small marine creatures tangled up in the seaweed.
According to NOAA, floating rafts of Sargassum seaweed can stretch for miles across the ocean. This floating habitat provides food, refuge, and breeding grounds for an array of critters such as fishes, sea turtles, marine birds, crabs, shrimp, and more.
Some animals, like the Sargassum fish (in the frogfish family), live their whole lives only in this habitat. Sargassum serves as a primary nursery area for a variety of commercially important fishes such as mahi-mahi, jacks, and amberjacks.
Because of the ecological importance of Sargassum, local governments do not clean up the seaweed.