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Seaweed Invading South Florida Beaches

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seaweed invading South Florida beaches

In Fort Lauderdale alone, crews have picked up more than 40 tons of the ocean refuse since Saturday, and they expected to remove between 12 and 18 tons on Tuesday.

Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman, known as Dr. Beach, speculates that strong and steady easterly winds and a possible dip of the Gulf Stream may be behind the beached seaweed.

seaweed invading South Florida beaches"Forty tons is certainly a lot. I've never heard of that much," he said. "I hope they are doing something useful with it."

Fort Lauderdale crews are taking the seaweed to Snyder Park and creating a compost pile, said city spokesman Matt Little.

The seaweed is composted for about 90 days and the dirt is recycled for landscaping projects. Using the compost dirt instead of purchasing topsoil for the planting project saves the city about $180,000 a year, Little said.

In Delray Beach, crews can't move fast enough, said James Scala, the city's Ocean Rescue superintendent.

"They clean it up and it's filled again by late afternoon," Scala said. "People think we're not picking it up and have been calling here complaining nonstop."

The city's seaweed is usually buried near the dune lines to help combat beach erosion. But the private company that handles beach clean up for the city is hauling it away this week because of the large amounts, officials said.

Removing the seaweed hasn't been easy for clean-up crews this week because of the peculiar combination of nesting sea turtles, the Easter holiday and beach-seeking Spring Breakers.

seaweed invading South Flordia beachesWorkers in most coastal cities have to wait for turtle nest monitors to give them the green light each morning before firing up the tractors and rakers.

Crowds didn't appear to mind their beachy companions at a small stretch near A1A and Northeast 18th Street, where the crews had not arrived by late afternoon.

Karan Ramos, 37, who is vacationing with her family from Ocala, scooped up a pile of seaweed to examine it closely.

"They are creepy when they touch you in the water," Ramos said. "They are pretty out here."

via Sun Sentinel


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