Is sargassum a red algae?

What is it? Sargassum is a type of seaweed, or brown algae, that spends its life on the ocean’s surface and floats in large masses. Unlike red tide and blue-green algae, sargassum isn’t harmful.

Can you swim in sargassum?

In the water, Sargassum can be harmless to humans, but once it lands on the beach and starts decomposing, it begins to release hydrogen sulfide gas, or H2S. He further cautions to avoid swimming in Sargassum infested waters as it can lead to skin irritation.

Is Sargassum still a problem?

In 2018 NASA satellites revealed the largest marine algae bloom in the world. A belt of sargassum that contained over 22 million tons of seaweed stretched some 5,500 miles across the Atlantic to West Africa. Satellite images are showing abnormally high amounts again in 2021.

Does Sargassum have a season?

Sargassum season, when the majority of seaweed arrives in the Mexican Caribbean, runs from April to August. As expected, June brings an increase in the amount of sargassum arriving at our shores.

What happens when sargassum is washed ashore?

When washed ashore, Sargassum will decompose (rot). Rotting Sargassum causes the production of hydrogen sulfide gas which smells like rotten eggs. How can hydrogen sulfide affect my health? However, tiny organisms that live in Sargassum (like larvae of jellyfish) may irritate skin if they come in contact with it.

What does sargassum look like?

Sargassum is a brown algae and the ‘grapes’ are the air bladders, which keep it afloat. It may look like the attached marine plants found in coastal waters, but it’s found in the middle of the North Atlantic Gyre. The Sargassum fish (Histrio histrio right) uses its fins to crawl through the plant forest.

Can you burn sargassum?

Sargassum burns cleaner and does not emit much dust or smoke. It also burns longer, making it perfect for cooking jerk, a traditional Jamaican style of seasoning and preparing meat.

How do you clean sargassum?

Sargassum in shallow waters can be removed “using reinforced fishing nets – either toed by light boats or by hand in very shallow waters. On Isla Bonita, Belize, volunteers devised a unique method of using a seine net to harvest the floating sargassum out of the water” (Hinds et al, 2016).

What causes sargassum blooms?

Climate change-driven downpours increase runoff. Saharan dust clouds that extend for thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean have also contributed to this explosion of sargassum seaweed. The dust contains iron, nitrogen and phosphorus that fertilizes plankton and seaweed blooms.

How do you stop sargassum?

Removal by rake, tractor, or boat The offshore seaweed barriers use netting or floating bumpers to catch or block sargassum. Boats equipped with scooping mechanisms can also lift plant matter out of the water, but they can be expensive.

Which Caribbean islands are not affected by sargassum?

Just in front of Villa del Palmar Cancun is Isla Mujeres, one of the most paradisiacal destinations in the entire Caribbean and that hasn’t been hit by the sargassum algae. This island is an excellent option to make a day trip from Cancun.

How long does it take for sargassum to decompose?

Onshore, sargassum starts decomposing after 48 hours (4), releasing hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and ammonia (NH3) gases, which can cause respiratory and neurological symptoms in exposed populations (5, 6).