From Destin to Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa County officials said their staff is ready to respond if large amounts of sargassum wash up on shore.
“We understand there have been reports of a large amount of sargassum seaweed headed towards Florida,” said Public Information Officer Nick Tomecek. “There is currently no sargassum on Destin-Fort Walton beaches, but we are making preparations if seaweed accumulations reach excessive levels.”
Sargassum patches are a normal occurrence for Northwest Florida beaches and decompose naturally with the environment. Tomecek said with a bloom this size, county staff has tools that can be used to remove it.
“As you are probably aware, algae and seagrasses are naturally occurring in the marine environment worldwide,” said Tomecek. “They are also an important ecosystem for marine life like sea turtles and small fish. While we have typically allowed nature to dispose of sargassum on our beaches, we are prepared to utilize properly permitted tools on our beach to remove the seaweed if needed.”
Another environmental alert is Red Tide impacting Florida beaches in the South part of the Gulf of Mexico. Tomecek said that currently there are no threats of the harmful algae bloom in Northwest Florida.
“Additionally, there are currently no detectable amounts of red tide in the waterways around Destin-Fort Walton Beach,” said Tomecek. “Water samples are being collected by the Tourism Development Department and Department of Health (independent of each other) then provided to Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for processing.”
Recent samples show Escambia to Bay County to be free of the respiratory affecting algae.
Keep an eye on Red Tide samples on the FWC website.