It Came From Sargasso: Keeping Beaches Clean From Sargassum Seaweed! back to our Aquatic Plant Control Blog Series. Over the past few weeks, we have explored blue-green algae, water hyacinth, and duckweed control. Today we close out the series with a discussion on sargassum seaweed.

What is Sargassum?

Sargassum originated in the Sargasso Sea (which is named after the sargassum seaweed that creates its unique ecosystem). The Sargasso Sea is in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda. Christopher Columbus first documented encounters with Sargassum in his expedition diaries in 1492. So why talk about sargassum today? Sargassum floats in large mats on the ocean’s surface and has been washing up onto beaches in greater quantities since 2011, flourishing as water temperatures continue to rise and Gulf Stream currents change, especially in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.  Nutrient loading from inland water sources traveling to the ocean nourish the Sargassum fields, making this an ever-growing concern.

Why is Sargassum a Problem?

The tourism industry dreads sargassum seaweed and goes to great lengths to keep beaches clean. While sargassum does not harm people, it diminishes their vacation experience primarily due to the off-gassing of decomposing sargassum. Off-gassing creates a pungent odor and can sometimes cause headaches and affect breathing. It may also corrode electronics and appliances.  For coastal resorts that rely on providing their valued guests a restful and exotic getaway, the impact and cost to maintain their beaches is significant.

Are There Benefits to Sargassum?

When sargassum is not washed up on beaches it is a floating habitat for a variety of sea life. Sea turtle hatchlings use sargassum as food and shelter.
Sargassum removal is not just to improve the view off your balcony. While beachfront property owners, resort managers, and hoteliers see and smell the negative impact of sargassum, it is common in the Caribbean to harvest sargassum to be used as fertilizer. Because sargassum is carbon and nutrient rich, farmers in Antigua, Barbados, and Tobago use sargassum as an organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.  However, the last few years have proven to be a challenge to keep up to the enormous quantities that wash ashore daily.
Is There a Barrier for Sargassum Control?

Whether you plan to harvest sargassum or divert beach seaweed away from the shore, Aquatic Plant and Debris Boom can be used to contain, deflect or exclude sargassum to help keep beaches clean.

Let GEI Works help implement a sargassum control strategy for your waterfront property. Contact a product specialist today at +1-772-646-0597.

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