Sargassum expert Brian LaPointe, Ph.D. and Professor at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, started studying seaweed in the 1980s.
He says : “The mounds of sargassum on beaches posed a serious solid-waste problem for the tourism industry and was described in a New York Times article called “Where’s The Beach? Under the Seaweed.” Not only do the excessive sargassum strandings cause problems for tourism, they also impact biodiversity, biogeochemical cycling and fisheries habitat, potentially forming “dead zones” (hypoxic or anoxic conditions) in coastal ecosystems such as mangroves.”
Al Jazeera America interview – Brian LAPOINTE and Denis JIMENEZ about Sargassum.
The experts agree on these points:
1/ These seaweeds invasions are not natural. It’s a direct consequence of river pollution and climate changes. This invasion has been growing each year since 2011.
2/ Trapped in bays and beaches, Sargassum consume all the oxygen and suffocate thousands of fish and other underwater lives before dying themselves.
3/ The dead Sargassum decompose with a rotten egg smell. The specific odor of hydrogen sulfide “H²S”, a very toxic (can be lethal) and flammable gas in high concentrations.
4/ The accumulation of Sargassum on the beaches can prevent sea turtles to access or leave the nesting zone. They die.
5/ Poor baby turtles have trouble crossing the Sargassum wall. Trapped and vulnerable to natural predators, many die in the huge mats of algae that normally, at sea, serves as their refuge. (Some “experts” say that you should not touch the Sargassum that are also a shelter for sea turtles and fish. But if the turtles are no longer able to reach the nesting zone and if babies can no longer reach the sea, there will be no more sea turtles because they die!).
6/ The invasion of Sargassum is now the new “normality”!
7/ Removing the Sargassum on the beach with tractors and heavy machinery destroys Sea turtle nests and is eroding beaches.
Countries affected by Sargassum seaweeds invasion
In some islands, Hydrogen Sulfide causes health problems to humans and domestic animals. This corrosive gas damages the electronics and appliances. Oxidation attacks the engines of fishing boats, reducing to nothing the only possible activity for some populations of these islands. Tractors and heavy machinery destroys sea turtle nests and erodes beaches.
The beach is the only distraction of these often very poor inhabitants. Families spend all their weekends, leaving their children to play on stacks of seaweed over 2m (80 inches) high.
The experts are unanimous, the only solution is to prevent the Sargassum from arriving onto beaches !
That’s why I designed the “Sargaboat©” . The only harvesting boat approved by Florida Atlantic University – Brian Lapointe Ph. D. HARBOR BRANCH.
Sargassum 2018 – impacted zones*