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FAU secures $1.3 million grant to clean up sargassum in Florida

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Seaweed gathering along Florida’s coast prompts concerns over potential bacterial contamination.

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Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has been awarded a $1.3 million grant by the Florida Department of Emergency Management.

The university said the funding aims to support research assessing the viability of in-water harvesting of sargassum, the floating brown seaweed on Florida’s shores.

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“Sargassum is becoming a devastating mainstay in parts of Florida’s coastal communities, particularly in the Florida Keys, where massive blooms continue to recur,” stated Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., principal investigator and research professor at FAU Harbor Branch. “Economically, a ‘severe’ Sargassum event could have more than a $20 million impact in just the Keys alone.”

The project, “Mitigating Sargassum Inundation Impacts to Nearshore Waters and Beaches in Florida,” will look at the environmental and ecological effects of sargassum overflow in the state.

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It addresses concerns regarding potential harm to marine life and the heightened risk of bacterial buildup.

To analyze the sargassum buildup and its impact on water quality, researchers will use drones and GoPros.

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According to FAU, the team will gather high-resolution aerial images through airplane flyovers to better understand the spatial distribution of sargassum mats.

FAU said researchers will conduct water quality assessments, measuring parameters such as pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, dissolved nutrients, and fecal indicator bacteria at inundation sites.

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Beatriz Oliveira, WFTV.com

Beatriz Oliveira is a Content Creator for WFTV.com.

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