COCOA BEACH, Florida — As of 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 13, 2018, massive amounts of sargassum seaweed have washed ashore along Brevard County beaches.
The amount of seaweed is so extensive that it is affecting how waves break onshore.
This large amount of seaweed is an annual occurrence that often happens along Cocoa Beach in May.
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 shore birds 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.