"How Do You Deal With 9 Million Tonnes Of Suffocating Seaweed?"

"Across the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, scientists are developing alternative sustainable solutions to the golden tide of Sargassum".

"The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, first detected by Nasa observation satellites in 2011 and now known to be the world’s largest bloom of seaweed, stretches for 5,500 miles (8,850km) from the Gulf of Mexico to the western coast of Africa.

Millions of tonnes of floating Sargassum seaweed in coastal waters smother fragile seagrass habitats, suffocate coral reefs and harm fisheries. And once washed ashore on Mexican and Caribbean beaches, this foul-smelling, rotting seaweed goes on to devastate the tourist industry, prevent turtles from nesting and damage coastal ecosystems, while releasing hydrogen sulphide and other toxic gases as it decomposes.

Seaweed blooms are exacerbated by fertilisers washing into the ocean, as well as by warming sea temperatures. “Sargassum blooms on the Atlantic gyre [tidal current] have got much worse in recent years partly due to increasing intensive agriculture discharging fertiliser into the sea via rivers such as the Mississippi and Amazon,” says Prof Mike Allen, of the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. “Fertiliser makes the seaweed grow faster and this influx of biomass just shouldn’t be there in that abundance – it’s out of control.” In May this year, 8.7m tonnes of Sargassum were observed across the Atlantic."

Anna Turns reports for the Guardian June 30, 2020.

Source: Guardian, 07/02/2020