During the Okaloosa Tourist Development Council meeting on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, Okaloosa Coastal Resource Manager Alex Fogg provided an update on the state of Red Tide and Sargassum in the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area.
- The good news is that the “big blob” of sargassum that’s been making headlines is still thousands of miles away from the area, according to Fogg.
Fogg told the council that He and the Coastal Resource team have been collecting weekly water samples in coordination with Florida Fish and Wildlife, and says they’ve yet to detect any red tide.
Red tide, which occurs when algae overgrows and produces toxins, can cause fish kills and pose health risks to humans and animals. Fogg said that the team will continue to monitor for any potential fish kills and other issues that may arise. However, the good news is that the area is currently in the clear.
- “Fortunately, Red Tide and Sargassum are not something that significantly impacts our area compared to other parts of Florida,” says Fogg. “We’ll continue to monitor for any potential issues, but right now, neither are a major concern.”
Sargassum is a type of seaweed that’s naturally occurring in the marine environment worldwide. It’s an important ecosystem for marine life like sea turtles and small fish. According to Fogg, the seaweed provides a habitat for these species and acts as a nursery for them.
Sargassum along the beaches of South Walton from 2022 👇
He explained that the seaweed forms the “big blob” pretty much every year, and typically impacts the Caribbean Islands and south Florida. While the “big blob” of sargassum may be heading into the Gulf of Mexico, via currents, Fogg says it’s unlikely to significantly impact the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area. “While our area will certainly see sargassum on our beaches, like every year, we do not expect the quantities to be overwhelming,” he said.
- “Fortunately, the loop current that comes up into the Gulf of Mexico takes a hard right turn right in the middle and heads to the west coast of Florida, and then down around the Florida Keys and up the east coast,” he said. “This means that while the “big blob” may be heading towards Florida, it is unlikely to significantly impact the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area.”
The Coastal Resource Team is in communication with the US Coast Guard, who does periodic missions out to areas off of Apalachicola. He told the TDC that they will be sure to let his team know if they see large patches of sargassum that our local fishing fleet misses.
“The fishermen are loving it,” says Fogg, referring to the small amount of sargassum that’s currently in the area. “We’ll continue to monitor for any potential impacts, but it’s certainly not enough to cause any worry here in Destin-Fort Walton Beach.”