These are the places in the Caribbean most affected by sargasso besides Mexico

There is a great presence of sargasso throughout the coasts of the Caribbean Sea, according to the most recent report of April 2019 from the Optical Oceanographic Laboratory of the University of South Florida (USF), which tracks the development of these algae in the coasts of the Caribbean Sea.

Tulum coast covered in sargasso. Image: Grupo de Red de Monitoreo del Sargazo Cancún
Tulum coast covered in sargasso. Image: Grupo de Red de Monitoreo del Sargazo Cancún

Currently, there are large quantities of sargasso in almost the entire Caribbean Sea, except near the coasts of Venezuela and Colombia, says the April 2019 report of the marine observatory of the University of South Florida. In the Caribbean, the amounts are even higher than the historical record in 2018 for the same month, said the report.

The University of South Florida predicts that for the period May and June 2019 will increase the amount of sargasso in the Caribbean Sea compared to April 2019, and will continue the arrival of this plant to the Gulf of Mexico and the east coast of Florida.

"The exact amount of Sargasso, the time and location of the beaches to which it will arrive depends on local ocean circulation and the winds," says the USF report.

Meanwhile, a map published by The Ocean Cleaner and Sargasso Monitoring, which collects information from people in the area that send photographs and videos of beaches with sargasso, shows a large number of coasts affected by this seaweed along the Caribbean Sea affecting beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Texas, as well as in eastern Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Aruba, Curacao, and several beaches in the Caribbean Islands.

The risk rating agency Moody's, in a report on Mexico, said that the invasion of sargasso in the Caribbean, due to climate change, implies a risk for tourism and income for beach resorts, for the airport International Cancun, for the Mayab Highway, a large highway in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the state of Quintana Roo.

The first time this phenomenon arrived "atypically" to the coasts of the Mexican Caribbean was in 2013, according to the Ministry of Environment. But in 2014 and 2015, the phenomenon began to become constant, and according to environmental authorities, since March 2018 the arrival of sargasso to the Mexican coasts began.

Damage to the ecosystem

Sargasso is a large brown seaweed that floats on the surface of the ocean, which, according to investigators from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in August 2018, seriously affect the ecosystem, cause bad odor and decompose the landscape of a of the most beautiful and tourist areas of the country and affects the white and turquoise beaches of the Caribbean.

"With these algae, the contribution of nutrients is a hundred times greater than what we are already doing. The ecosystems suffer unprecedented changes and the event is new because of its magnitude, as well as the permanent natural disaster," says Brigitta Ine van Tussenbroek, head of the Marine Pastures Laboratory of the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the UNAM.

This plant "stops the oxygenation of the water, turns brown its turquoise color characteristic of the Caribbean and generates gases when it decomposes on the beaches", said Marta García, a postdoctoral researcher at the Puerto Morelos Unit and specialist in macroalgae, cited by the Gazette of the UNAM.

This seaweed, which grows rapidly and doubles its mass every 18 days, according to the UNAM, is an indicator of contamination and increases up to a hundred times the damage caused directly by human activity in the Caribbean seas and coasts.

And the danger of this plant is that it is capable of changing marine ecosystems because they provide large amounts of nitrogen, iron, and phosphorus, so that plants grow rapidly, causing the environmental impact that is seen today, say the researchers of the UNAM. However, according to them, this plant is not harmful in the open sea and can be a habitat for turtles and fish.

The presence of sargasso in the Caribbean is irreversible, according to researchers at the UNAM, a trend observed by the marine laboratory at the University of South Florida, which says there is a great possibility that there are large quantities of sargasso in the Caribbean Sea and in the Gulf of Mexico in the boreal summer of 2019.

Source CNN Español

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