Considered the greatest single threat to the Caribbean, Sargassum is blamed for dead fish on Ambergris Caye

The influx of Sargassum seaweed has been accumulating along the coast of Ambergris Caye and nearby islands for the past several weeks. The thick accumulation of these sea plants on the coastline is apparently causing detrimental effects on certain fish species as residents have reported dead fish along the shores. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve was made aware of dead fish and considered that the excess of Sargassum in certain areas of the island might be the cause of their death.

According to Hol Chan’s Manager Miguel Alamilla, last year they recorded a number of dead fish due to a large amount of Sargassum accumulating on the shores of the island. He also explained why fish near the shore end up dying. “Once Sargassum drifts to shore it dies and due to poor water circulation it begins to decompose,” said Alamilla. “What happens next is that the microorganisms decomposing the algae on the seaweed consumes all the oxygen out of the surrounding water causing fish to die in the immediate area, such process is called eutrophication.”

The local authorities have been working along the beach trying to remove as much Sargassum as they can. While, the different restaurants, hotels, and bars along the beach have also teamed up to try to clean the beach as it is affecting their businesses as well. The idea to use Sargassum for the landfill has been discouraged by some residents who have resorted to this method in the past. According to them, Sargassum continues to further decay once it is buried and this can result in the land on top of it to cave in.

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