Data from: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Picture: Nat Geo
Do we really know what sargassum is & what is it’s role in the marine ecosystem? We all know sargassum has affected beaches in Dominican Republic, it has messed our blue beach days with a foul smell & brown colored water. Upon close inspection, it is easy to see leafs, branches, and round, berry-like structures that make up the plant. These “berries” are actually gas-filled structures which are filled mostly with oxygen & add buoyancy to the plant structure & allow it to float on the surface. Sargassum is a floating habitat that provides food, refugee, and breeding grounds for an array of critters such as fishes, sea turtles, marine birds, crabs, shrimp, and more.
Some animals live their whole lives only in this habitat. Sargassum serves as a primary nursery area for a variety of commercially important fishes such as mahi mahi. When Sargassum loses buoyancy, it sinks to the seafloor, providing energy in the form of carbon to fishes and invertebrates in the deep sea. Sargassum may also provide an important addition to the food sources available in the deep sea.
Sargassum | “Everything in excess is opposed to nature” |
The Atlantic Ocean’s Sargasso Sea was named after the algae, as it hosts a large amount of Sargassum. Several factors could explain the proliferation of Sargassum in the Caribbean in recent years. These include the rise of sea temperature and the change of sea currents due to climate change. Also, nutriments from agricultural fertilizers and wastewater from the cities that end up in the sea could also make the algae bloom. Sargassum is important for marine life since it provides with food & a new ecosystem for marine species.
But everything in excess will cause a problem. Sargassum’s abnormal growth impacts marine life, tourism, economies, our beaches & can even cause respiratory problems to humans due to the large amount of Sulphur it contains. Organizations are trying to make the best of the excess sargassum by making products out of it. We definetly give this a round of applause! Another way to keep the beaches sargassum free is to install a net & by cleaning the beach.
LETS TAKE CARE OF OUR PLANET!