Nature Foundation warns: New Sargasso weed invasion underwayPOSTED: 02/23/16 7:39 PM
Large amounts of Sargasso seaweed render beaches inaccessible. Photo contributed
GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is warning for the potential of large amounts of Sargasso seaweed washing ashore on local beaches. This would result in a repeat of the situation 2011/ 2012 and 2014/2015 when beaches were closed due to a large influx of the seaweed.
Based on satellite data and communication with conservation management organizations in the Caribbean the Nature Foundation has sent a warning that there is a potential of Sargasso seaweed to once again affect the area. “We have been receiving updates from satellites and pilots in the area as well as from conservation organizations with whom we work closely that there is again a potential for Sargasso seaweed causing problems,” Nature Foundation manager Tadzio Bervoets said in a statement. “Especially last year St. Maarten and other islands in the region had to deal with a large influx of the seaweed with beaches being closed and on some islands harbors being negatively affected. We are keeping a close eye on ocean currents and prevailing winds. We hope that the majority of the Sargasso will stay away from us but we wanted to give a head’s up in any case.”
Sargasso is a genus of brown (class Phaeophyceae) seaweed which is distributed throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. Most of the Sargasso Seaweed lies concentrated in the Sargasso Sea, a region in the middle of the North 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.
Sargasso weed plagued the Caribbean and St. Maarten over recent years. The Foundation had to warn swimmers to avoid swimming in Guana Bay and other beaches due to the large amount of Sargasso weed. Many beach front residences and hotels had to clean washed up Sargasso continuously. The Foundation is in close contact with experts in the region in developing an early warning system to warn residents and governments about the possible influx of Sargasso seaweed.