Environmentalist Cautions Sea Goers as Sargussum Increases on Local Beaches

Veta Wade photo of sargussum sea weed on Marguerita Bay.

Shorelines heavily impacted by sargassum can become very dangerous for sightseers, says local environmentalist and Ocean Advocate Veta Wade.

Wade, who runs the Fish ‘n Fins Ocean Club for children said she has been observing an increase in the sargussum sea weed on the island’s beaches. Primarily on the east of the island. However, a quick visit to the more popular beaches will note that sea weed is gradually drifting in.

The University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab is predicting that in the coming months, there is a high chance that sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean will continue to occur in high volumes until at least August and possibly exceed the historical record in 2015.

“It quickly becomes very much like quicksand, if you find yourself in a large deposit, which in some places can be over five-feett deep.  Small children should be very closely supervised at beaches such as Marguerita, New Windward & Bottomless Ghaut; and adults should exercise extreme caution,” says Wade.

“Sadly too much sargassum can make it complicated for nesting sea turtles to arrive at shore; and for hatchlings to reach the sea.  Montserrat hosts critically small but regionally important nesting populations of green and hawksbill turtles. The timing of this latest event, is certainly not good news for these creatures. Also at risk is our coral reefs, these sensitive animals could be destroyed by the lack of sunlight reaching down to them.

“For our sake we can only hope for large northern swells to break up the huge sargassum walls accumulating at our windward shorelines and disperse it back into open ocean. As the rise of the sargassum phenomenon continues, creative solutions are needed to resolve this problem, and we must work as ‘One Caribbean’ in finding this solutions. Failure to do so, and Caribbean tourism, especially on the windward coast of our islands could be over.  A proactive public awareness plan is also needed , on how can we manage this seaweed for the betterment and safety of all.”

Current satellite images are showing the presence of hundreds of thousands of square miles of sargassum now in the Mid-Atlantic, it’s heading our way. Neighbouring Antigua is already battling the pile ups on its beaches and are working feverishly to remove it.

Residents are being encouraged to use the seaweed in their agricultural farms as it has much nutritional value.

Pointe FM Photo of sargussum on the Eastern cost of Antigua.