Sargassum study around Caye Caulker encourages further human intervention to address this environmental issue

An investigation into the effect of Sargassum in the marine environment surrounding Caye Caulker was conducted by a team comprised of members from the Belize Coastal Science Alliance and the Ocean Academy High School. The project aimed to find out the magnitude of the Hypoxia (low oxygen conditions) believed to be the result of rotten Sargassum. As such, the project also studied the comparison between areas on that island that have and have not seen human intervention. At the end of the research, and according to the findings, it was concluded that the area receiving human intervention had higher oxygen levels compared to areas that did not. This result advocates the initiative that removing the Sargassum from near shore water areas does reduce the impact to local marine life threatened by the large mats of this brown seaweed accumulating on coastal areas.

During the project, seven sites were inspected throughout the island: one site on the leeward side and the other six spread across on the windward side. These sites were docks, including docks at Tarpon, Caveman, San Pedro Belize Express, Tropical Paradise, Margarita Mike’s, la Isla, and Blue Sea. Every day and at the same time, measurements were recorded at the base of the dock. Each site had a point A and B. Point A was at the point just far enough from the beach to be at approximately one foot of water to allow the instrument to read. Point B was at the end of the dock. A scale was pre-planned to denote the level of built-up of sargassum as it extended horizontally from the beach. The scale used categories of width and stages of rot. The investigation reported that Sargassum accumulated against the beach floating at surface level with bright golden yellow color was classified as early decay. Midwater or neutrally buoyant sargassum, light brown in color or with a dusted look was considered mid-stage decay. Sunken, dark brown sargassum and disintegrating material were classified as late-stage decay.

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