Panama City Beach seaweed and algae sometimes make an appearance as unwelcome guests on the (usually) sugar sand beaches and emerald green waters of PCB. Seaweed, algae blooms, and sargassum can wash up on the beaches across the area. Seaweed is a type of seagrass, Junegrass is a type of algae and sargassum is actually a brown algae.
Why is there seaweed in PCB?
Many of these types of seaweed get washed up on the beaches in Panama City Beach when the weather and surf is rough, disturbing the sea floor. Like everything else in nature, these seaweeds and algae's generally serve a purpose in the ecosystem providing food and a place for small fish to lay eggs. They can also play an important role in ‘beach building’. Learn more about the different types of algae blooms and seaweed commonly found in Panama City Beach below.
What are the different types of Panama City Beach Seaweed & Algae?
Different types of Panama City Beach seaweed and algaes include:
1. Sargassum (the brown seaweed in PCB)
Sargassum is the type of brown seaweed frequently seen in PCB.
Is sargassum harmful?
Sargassum itself cannot harm your health, but sometimes tiny sea creatures that live in Sargassum can cause skin rashes and blisters if you are floating around in it for a while.
According to experts, sargassum isn't harmful, unlike red tide and blue-green algae. In fact, sargassum is an important fish habitat that provides food and refuge for fish, birds, crabs, shrimp and many other marine organisms.
What else should I know about sargassum?
Sargassum can smell bad as it rots, if there is a really large quantity.
Take a look at this Sargassum Fact Sheet from the Florida Department of Health for more information on sargassum.
In huge quantities, sargassum seaweed can overwhelm a beach.
Take a look at this video that shows the crazy amount of sargassum washing up on the Gulf beach in Orange Beach, Alabama in late May 2022.
A huge amount of seaweed as seen here will most likely impact the ability of people to get to the water or enjoy the water or the beach. In severe cases like this, municipalities may opt to try to clear the seaweed in one way or another.
2. June Grass (The slimy green algae 'seaweed')
June Grass is a term usually used to refer to the slimy green algae frequently seen in PCB. This green algae (Cladaphora) blooms every year sometimes as early as April, and will come and go throughout the summer. The name “June Grass” comes from the common appearance in the month of June.
Back in August of 2010, we had some of the thickest June Grass I've ever personally seen -- check it out at the following posts.
Is June Grass harmful?
Cladaphora algae is considered a nuisance algae only. It does not produce toxins like the blue-green algae can. It’s considered harmless, just slimy and annoying.
It is not related to red tide, which is a different type of algea bloom that is more common on shore in the fall.
3. Red Tide
Red tides, which are also called harmful algal blooms (HABs), happen when microscopic algae multiply to higher-than-normal concentrations, often discoloring the water. According to experts, more than 50 HAB species occur in the Gulf of Mexico, and one of the most well-known species in Florida is Karenia brevis, the red tide organism.
Is Red Tide harmful to humans?
"Many red tides produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans. The Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die. Wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation.
For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness. The red tide toxins can also accumulate in molluscan filter-feeders such as oysters and clams, which can lead to neurotoxic shellfish poisoning in people who consume contaminated shellfish."