Sunday , February 5 2023

Warnings for increased influx of Sargasso Seaweed

Since its initial warning of a renewed influx of Sargassum Seaweed in May 2014, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation is again warning of a significant influx of the invasive seaweed in the coming weeks: “We have been coordinating our monitoring efforts with our partners in the region and based on weather predictions and satellite images there is a significant amount of the seaweed headed in our general direction.

This on top of the large volume of seaweed that we have already been experiencing,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets. On St. Maarten, the beaches of Guana Bay, Gibbes Bay and Dawn Beach and the area of Point Blanche are heavily impacted.

Sargassum is a genus of brown (class Phaeophyceaeseaweed which is distributed throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. Most of the Sargassum Seaweed lies concentrated in the Sargassum Sea, a region in the middle of theNorth Atlantic Ocean surrounded by ocean currents. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream; on the north, by the North Atlantic Current; on the east, by the Canary Current; and on the south, by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current.

Sargassum first plagued the Caribbean  in 2011 and 2012, with the Foundation having to warn swimmers to avoid swimming in Guana Bay in August and September due to the large amount of Sargassum Weed.

The resulting large influx of Sargassum Weed has been due to a suspected southward shift in the Gulf Stream, which has pushed the Sargassum Sea– an area of the Atlantic Ocean where Sargassum Weed is in thick concentration, south to our area. This coupled with the seaweed flourishing due to warmer seawater temperatures has caused a huge amount of seaweed to enter the region. Scientists suspect that the invasion is a result of Climate Change.

The Foundation is also urging the community to collect as much of the Sargassum weed as possible to use in their gardens as a fertilizer.  The community is urged to collect, rinse and add the seaweed to compost to be used in their gardens. It is recommend to not apply it to the soil directly but to first rinse the seaweed and then add it to the compost heap.


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