For those of you who have flown to the island in recent weeks, you may have notices what looked like an oil slick in the water. But rather than it being a darker color with an oily shine, it’s a lighter brownish color. What you’re seeing from the air is sargassum, and it’s been popping up in some of our bays over the past month or so.
Sargassum is a genus of large brown seaweed (a type of algae) that floats in island-like masses, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). While it may be unsightly when found on the beach, it’s actually a very important part of our ecosystem.
This floating habitat provides food, refuge, and breeding grounds for an array of critters such as fishes, sea turtles, marine birds, crabs, shrimp, and more, according to the NOAA. Some animals, like the Sargassum fish 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, for example.
I first saw the sargassum come into the Territory about a month or so back. Over the last couple days, I have seen large amounts of it congregating in several places around the island including Privateer Bay, Drunk Bay, Hart Bay and Mary Creek among other places. Caribbean Buzz took the following picture from their helicopter the other day:
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen sargassum in the area. We had some last July, but the most notable boom was in December 2014 when many of our beaches were covered with the organism.
Sargassum is not harmful, although it can get quite stinky when it dries on the beach.
Well folks, that’s all we have for you today. Have a great one everyone!