Sargassum seaweed is more than just a nuisance. While it can put a damper on any beach vacation, it’s a naturally occurring part of the ocean. Seaweed is more prevalent during the summer months and the amount of seaweed can change with the winds and the tides on any given day. Here are 6 surprising facts you might not have known about sargassum:
Sargassum is a brown class of seaweed distributed by wind and currents throughout the tropical oceans of the world, generally inhabiting shallow waters and coral reefs. Because of its oxygen-filled bladders, sargassum tends to float on the surface of the water in large masses, sometimes stretching out several miles long!
Researchers have discovered a large amount of seaweed growing between the coast of Africa and Brazil, calling it the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. Here, they’ve learned there’s a large range of nutrients feeding the sargassum and helping it bloom. Possible sources of nutrients are associated with deforestation and the rising use of fertilizers in Brazil. Nitrogen and phosphorous seep into the Amazon River which then empties into the Atlantic.
Sargassum seaweed is not dangerous to come into contact with. In fact, it has many ecological benefits and provides wonderful natural habitats for many sea creatures like fish, sea turtles, crabs, marine birds, and more! And though it might not have the prettiest appeal on that white-sand beach you’ve been dreaming about, it’s a natural part of the ocean and there’s no avoiding it.
Sargassum seaweed is most commonly found in tropical, warm waters around Mexico, the Caribbean, and in the Southern U.S. Travelers often find it washed up on the shore or floating in shallow waters near the coastline.
Many destinations are taking preventative measures to clear sargassum from their beaches such as installing floating barriers, building sargassum-collecting vessels, and organizing community cleanups (to name a few). While these efforts have reduced the amount of seaweed, it is nearly impossible to remove it entirely. This is because it’s a natural occurrence that comes and goes depending on the time of year, funds, and manpower available for removal. Rest assured, the hotel staff works diligently to clean up the beaches throughout the day to make sure the area is as beautiful as possible for their guests.
If you’re in a destination where seaweed is in abundance, you can always take advantage of the resort’s pools and swim-up bars! Since seaweed is unpredictable, you’ll have to take the days as they come and make use of your beach time when the water is clear. We also suggest going on an excursion with a local touring company so you can head out to some of the prettier spots for snorkeling if the seaweed is overwhelming. Regardless, I promise you that the seaweed won’t ruin your vacation!
So, don’t let sargassum seaweed hinder your beach plans –embrace it! For more information on some of my favorite beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean, contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.