For the past couple of months there has been a growing issue in the Caribbean, Seaweed! Now anytime we go to the beach we encounter seaweed and don’t really think too much of it. We just walk around it and go on our merry way. But what if there was a wall 10 feet high of seaweed and you couldn’t get around it. The Caribbean is experiencing this mass amount of seaweed called sargassum. It washes up on beaches from Mexico to Barbados, and can sometimes pile up so high that you can’t even get into the sea. This would be a very disappointing vacation if your plans were to lay on the beach and cool off in the clear waters.
So why is there so much of this sargassum this year? There is a lot of speculation that it is from land pollutants getting into the water. These nitrogen based pollutants are what the seaweed thrive on and what makes it grow faster and in larger abundances. Some also believe that it is the warmer climates of the Earth and the shifting of the currents causing more seaweed to come on shore. Could it be a combination of both, sounds like both pollutants and warmer climates are to blame.
A lot of resorts are putting a lot of money and time into clearing the seaweed from their beaches. Mexico plans on spending almost $10 million dollars to help remove it from the beaches. The nation of Tobago has called the seaweed a “natural disaster.” Some resorts are even putting up barriers out in the sea so that the seaweed can’t make it to the beach. They are finding that it is helping keep it at bay but because there is so much of it they still have some overflow. Keeping the seaweed in the sea is a good idea as once it washes up on shore and starts to rot it becomes very stinky and attracted a lot of skin biting insects. This is definitely not good for tourism in the Caribbean!
One of the other great reasons we go to the Caribbean is to go scuba diving or snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. We love to look at the beautiful coral, fish, and turtles but the seaweed is so thick that people are having trouble even doing these activities. It is believed that the rotting seaweed consumes the oxygen levels in the water so the animals are also suffering. This may lead to the animals finding new homes further away from the shore. There are some people who are brave enough to get past the wall of seaweed on the beach and get in the sea. I am sure they want to get their money’s worth, but be aware that you must trek through that same wall of seaweed on your way out.
So if you have a Caribbean vacation planned in the near future I suggest that you may want to find some water sports on the bay side, if available. Also, consider taking tours around the island that don’t involve the water. Make sure your resort has a nice pool or several pools that you can enjoy during your stay. There are still many activities you can enjoy but just be aware of the sargassum.
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