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.



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.


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.

IMG_8675 IMG_8305 IMG_8662

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.


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.


I bet she would LOVE a forever home 🙂

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