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Sargassum; out of sight but not out of mind

Waves of Sargassum that washed up in large mats on the shores of many countries within the Caribbean, southern Mexico, and Belize, have significantly decreased, giving way to clear coastlines with beautiful sandy beaches. Ambergris Caye’s eastern coastline is once again showing off her sandy shoreline, making the island an ideal place to vacation once more. Sargassum season is known to be from April to August each year, but according to reports, it could start flooding the region as early as January 2020. The year 2019 has been one of the worst recorded for the seaweed invasion, and predictions for 2020 are uncertain as Mother Nature is quite unpredictable.

According to Hol Chan Marine Reserve’s Executive Director Javier Paredes, the decrease of its presence is due to the change in the season, with the winds blowing in a south-eastern manner. The winds blow the seaweed away from the Belizean shores, but in late March, when the wind changes, we can expect Sargassum on our beaches. At this moment, it is uncertain its impact, but he believes that if global warming and the runoff of nutrients into waterways continue to increase, the blooms of Sargassum could be greater.

According to satellite imagery, most of the Sargassum affecting the Caribbean, Southern Mexico, and Belize is growing between the coast of Africa and Brazil. This is according to Dr. Brian Lapointe at the Florida Atlantic University in the United States of America. This area has been dubbed as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt and is rich in nutrients originating from run-off from the Amazon River in South America. Another factor that is helping Sargassum to grow uncontrollably is the fact that there are certain parts of the ocean, which are with nutritious water rising from the seafloor, contributing to the rapid growth of the algae.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun