MBNA Beach and Water Quality Working Group Members:
Chair: Oscar Vazquez
Projects include: Beach Re-Nourishment, Sargassum, Fish Kill, Biscayne Bay Health Summit
Members:Alex Penelas, Lina Blanco and Esteban Porcelli
On Wednesday, July 27, 2022, a "Beach & Water Quality Working Group" meeting took place via Zoom. Oscar Vazquez, our WG Chair, coordinated the meeting in an effort to have the City and State prioritize finding a short term solution to this problem which continues to increase and seriously affect our beaches, especially in the MidBeach areas. Thank you to Gabriella Gonzalez, the MidBeach Neighborhood Affairs Coordinator, and Samantha Tiffany, the City of Miami Beach's Environmental Resource Manager, for attending the meeting and listening to our concerns.
SARGASSUM (SEAWEED) The MBNA is extremely concerned with the ongoing Sargassum that is affecting the quality of our beaches. Sargassum arriving in the Mid Beach area has been increasing since 2011. Already under attack from erosion and rising seas, South Florida beaches are facing a new crisis: the invasion of Sargassum seaweed. Washing ashore in increasingly alarming amounts, Sargassum is coating coastlines over much of the state. “Sargassum is a good thing,” Dr. Brian Lapointe of Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute said. “It’s fish factory when it’s offshore, but when it comes ashore in excessive amounts, it becomes problematic. Lapointe has been monitoring this floating seaweed for decades, using satellites to track the 5,500-mile-long Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. Stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to West Africa, the Belt is home to more than 20 million tons of Sargassum in this recent bloom. “Since 2011, we have seen this ramping up, up and away," Lapointe said. Sargassum in the open water or even on our beaches is nothing new.
The chart below from the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab (USFOOL) shows the change in Sargassum flow captured entering the Central West Atlantic. Some of this flow of sargassum ends up on our shores. The USF Lab estimates that “considering the historical record-high levels of Sargassum in June 2022, more Sargassum may enter the CS (Caribbean Sea) and the GoM (Gulf of Mexico) in the following months following major ocean currents.”
The MBNA has been in communication with City and County Officials to monitor and stay informed of what is being done to prevent these situations from escalating again.
The "blanket" of Sargassum as seen between 27th and 29th Street:
FISH KILL Sargassum and fish kill impacts all Miami Beach Residents, that is why the MBNA will continue to monitor these situations. On August 10, 2020, Miami Waterkeeper’s samplers and members of the public encountered about a dozen dead fish while conducting our weekly fecal indicator bacteria monitoring at Morningside Park. Miami-Dade County DERM monitoring groups conducted their routine monthly sampling nearby, noted very high water temperature (~90 F), and low dissolved oxygen levels. Many species of fish and marine life have been killed as a result.