Sargassum is a way of life on the key; webinars showcase experts discussing alternate ways to cope with it
Sargassum seaweed has already begun to grace our Key Biscayne beaches, making the timing of free public webinars to talk about all things seaweed just about perfect.
The first session was held July 17 and set the stage by discussing the efforts by government agencies to deal with the annual shoreline scourge.
From 6 to 8 p.m. this Friday, July 24, the discussion continues. Led by Key Biscayne Resiliency Director Roland Samimym, topics to be addressed include new methods being used to remove the seaweed, and possibly convert it for use as fertilizer.
The webinars are sponsored by SOP Technologies, a company that “provides technologies to prevent ocean pollution, prevent floods, and provide cost savings to communities and businesses around the world,” according to the company’s website.
More than 100 people joined in on July 17 via Zoom. Government officials from throughout South Florida participated and talked about everything from current best practices for addressing the Sargassum issue, problems being encountered with their efforts.
“I thought the discussion gave a good overview of how other municipalities are managing their seaweed problem and the challenges each faces,” said Samimy, who has done extensive research on seaweed drift. “Clearly the challenges vary by location eliminating the one size fits all approach.’’
This coming Friday’s Zoom-powered webinar will take the conversation up a notch. Local and international scientists and industry professionals will discuss new research and technology solutions to issues communities face with Sargassum. Speakers include representatives from University of Miami, Florida International University and NOAA.
One of the topics in part one was “integrating” the seaweed into the top layer of sand, a fairly common management practice, but one not generally used in Dade County.
The village contracts with a company to rake the beach and bury seaweed at the mean high water mark on the beach, adding additional resources to the effort during seasonal increases of Sargassum hit in the summer.
The village’s resident resiliency expert said he “found it interesting” that Dade County does not integrate any seaweed on Miami Beach. “They use the same contractor as the Village of Key Biscayne. As such, they must haul it all away. How do they stage it to dry? Where do they take it? How much does it cost?”
Many other ideas are on the table -- such as dumping the collected Sargassum at sea.
“I was surprised most by Monroe County’s trial of collecting seaweed and taking it offshore,” Samimy said. “Seems expensive and futile in that it just transfers the problem elsewhere.”
Ultimately, said Samimy, the webinar could open eyes to things that are being done internationally to manage seaweed that might work in the US.
“My hope is that we can find a way to turn large quantities of waste into a usable product via composting,” he said. “Agrarian coastal communities have used seaweed for centuries as a nutritious soil supplement. Seems we could take some lessons from the past and scale them up to assist us with managing the problem.”
To watch a video of the first seminar, or register for Friday’s event, click here.