Nature Foundation Warns for Potential of Sargasso Seaweed Invasion

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is warning for the potential of large amounts of Sargasso Seaweed washing ashore on local beaches resulting in a situation similar to that of 2011 and 2012 where beaches were closed due to a large influx of the seaweed. Based on satellite data and communication with conservation management organizations in the Caribbean the Nature Foundation has sent a warning that there is a potential of Sargasso seaweed to once again affect the area. We have been receiving updates from satellites and pilots in the area as well as from conservation organizations with whom we work closely that there is again a potential for Sargasso seaweed causing problems for the region. In 2011 and 2012 St. Maarten and other islands in the region had to deal with a large influx of the seaweed with beaches being closed and on some islands harbors being very negatively affected. We are keeping a close eye on ocean currents and prevailing winds and we hope that the majority of the Sargasso will stay away from the local area but we wanted to give a head’s up in any case.
Sargasso is a genus of brown (class Phaeophyceae) seaweed which is distributed throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. Most of the Sargasso Seaweed lies concentrated in the Sargasso Sea, a region in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean surrounded by ocean currents. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream; on the north, by the North Atlantic Current; on the east, by the Canary Current; and on the south, by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current.
Sargasso Weed plagued the Caribbean and St. Maarten in 2011 and 2012, with the Foundation having to warn swimmers to avoid swimming in Guana Bay and other beaches due to the large amount of Sargasso Weed and many beach front residences and hotels having to continuously clean washed up Sargasso. The resulting large influx of Sargasso Weed has been due to a suspected southward shift in the Gulf Stream, which has pushed the Sargasso Sea– an area of the Atlantic Ocean where Sargasso Weed is in thick concentration, south to our area.
The Nature Foundation will continuously monitor the status of the Sargasso Weed and notify the authorities if there is an imminent risk of a large influx of Sargasso in the St. Maarten Area.