Sargasso Seaweed, You are Starting To Bring Me Down…I NEED ANSWERS!

Sargassum, sargasso, sargassos…I am getting sick of the word.  I am getting sick of the sight of it and…the smell of it.  I am fairly certain that the armies of workers with pitch forks and rakes are MORE than sick of it.

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WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?  WHAT IS THE DEAL?  There is research to be done.  Clearly not by me…but I’ll give it a go.

IMG_8661The stuff…defined as:  any floating brown seaweed of the genus Sargassum, such as gulfweed, of warm seas, having ribbon-like fronds containing air sacs…has been around forever. Here is a map from 1891 that tries to show this giant floating “sea” of week…

Christopher Columbus is credited with “discovering” it on is first journey across the Atlantic.  He thought it was a sign that land was near…his crew thought it meant that the ships were about to be mired in the stuff.

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A sea within a sea.   So without land boundaries, this floating mat of seawood provides safe harbor/a nursery of sorts for all kinds of marine life.  It shifts with tides, currents, weather and reproduces while floating on the high seas.  It’s called “the rain forest of the ocean”.

Here is a more modern map of the sea and its driving forces.

sargassoApparently the “definer” of the sea is the Azores current, the gulf stream…all working to swirl the sea around and keep it off land.

BUT WHY IS IT WASHING UP ALL OVER THE CARIBBEAN.  The pictures above are here in San Pedro, Belize but…

Antigua has been reporting HUGE piles of the stuff – up to 4 feet high on beaches.

St. Maarten has been fighting with the weed for a few years now.

St. Croix and St. Thomas…this blog from Roatan, Honduras asks an important question:  “While an unusually high volume of this particular species of seaweed may be a cyclical phenomenon, one can’t help but wonder if this strange occurrence isn’t yet another eerie ‘canary in the mineshaft’ result of global climate change.”

And on the other side of the Atlantic, GHANA! is reporting a big problem with the algae.

There is speculation that run-off from the melting ice from Greenland could be shifting things.  The golf stream is definitely pushing southward, many sites say.   Or maybe it was the series of SERIOUS cold front, Northerners, arctic air masses pushing southward…

I HAVE NO CLUE.  And would LOVE to hear if you have one.  Any suggestion, I’ll take it.  But this stuff is piling up.  Particularly in areas that are set on small coves or areas where there has been dredging or work done on the sea bed.

Sargasso…you are a pain in my ass-o.  Please go away.

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While I was taking these pictures, a San Pedro born dive master said “I’ve never seen anything like this in my 47 years”.  Sigh…

Note:  Not ALL beaches are this bad, in fact many resorts have teams of people cleaning up the weed early in the morning.

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On one quick semi-positive note, there is this LOVELY female dog that lives down along the beach between Cholo’s Beach Bar and Fido’s.  Where many of these pictures were taken.  She is SO friendly and just wants someone to throw a coconut to her in the water.

I have named her Sargassa.  If you see her down there, please give her a little snack and spend some time with her – maybe tossing a coconut.  She is one of those super cute-ugly dogs (some sort of brindle pittie-pug?) that tugs at the heart strings.

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I bet she would LOVE a forever home 🙂





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  • Oh man, the sargasso! I have heard reports of it being terrible here in PDC this year too, though seems like every time I go to the beach (not all that frequently), I must catch it on a good day, as I haven’t witnessed anything like in your photos. But I definitely did in on AC even back in 2012/13. It was some nasty stuff. On the positive side, I am in love with the little dog, “Sargassa”! Love the smushed-face breeds, as you know. I hope that the publicity she receives from your blog will help her find a good home. Little dogs like her don’t really have the constitutions to live out of doors…they’re house pups. Thanks for featuring her and I’ll keep my fingers crossed. <3

    • P.S. She looks like she has a LOT of French Bulldog in her.

      • Susan Watts

        I was thinking a bit of Boxer! But can’t tell how big she is. Wish I was there…she’d have a home for sure.

        • Belize Blog

          AWWWWWWWWWWWW. She is short…less than knee high. I might have to go track her down tomorrow for some more pictures. Oh and yes…some coconut husk tossing.

  • rjhawkins

    No answers but a “positive?” observation … sort of. I spent the morning snorkeling on the reef, just north of Tres Cocos, and swimming through acres of this stuff felt a bit like a loofah brush on my head, legs and back. With a little spin we can turn the fresh sargassum into a spa treatment! Thank you. (That’s fresh sarcasm about fresh sargassum….)

    • Belize Blog

      Ha. It sounds LOVELY! I am steering clear of the water for now. Sarcasm/sargassum…I really like that 🙂

  • mike

    Let the land and ocean do it’s thing. It’s probably trying to fix something that we fucked up!

    • Belize Blog

      You are probably spot on about that…but can I suggest to Mother Nature other places to dump it 😉

  • marysaunders

    It is the sea sending stuff to make more land out of. The sea angels heard humans worrying that their beaches would be flooded. I would guess the stuff also makes rather good fertilizer.

  • Omaha Dave

    Hello Rebecca – Everytime I come to AC and see the workers in the morning removing the grass I always wonder what they do with it ?? – any enlightment ?

    • Belize Blog

      Lots is used for land fill…some just goes to the dump…

  • Lauren

    Sargasso is a “weedy species” meaning that it thrives in environments that other species can’t live in. With climate change and ocean acidification, the floating mass of sargasso is just getting bigger.

  • blancojoe

    The sargasso phenomenon will ultimately be found to be an ordinary cycle of nature….just like sunspots and the rise and fall of temperatures worldwide. However, I am sure that a bevy of “scientists” somewhere, are desperately trying to work up a new “hockey stick” graph to prove it is all man made and we are about to die in Al Gore’s arms. Thank you. Have a beer.

    • Belize Blog

      Hmmm…maybe we’ll find that out…but maybe humans are doing ALOT that might be changing the earth. Almost all of the “scientists” seem to agree on that…