Sargassum seaweed invasion unprecedented, researchers say

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Sargassum.Sierra-LeoneWASHINGTON, United States, Thursday November 19, 2015 – The massive quantities of brown algae that washed ashore across the Caribbean between 2014 and 2015 were unprecedented, a group of American researchers has confirmed.

In fact, Sea Education Association (SEA), a leading ocean education and research institution based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts say the amount of seaweed was significantly more than seen in previous decades.

“SEA research found that the average concentration of all Sargassum forms combined was 10 times greater in samples collected during autumn 2014 than those analyzed during a previous 2011-12 inundation event, and a whopping 300 times greater than that of any other autumn over the last two decades of SEA research,” the researchers stated.

“Therefore, SEA researchers concluded that the 2014-15 Caribbean inundation event was truly unprecedented.”

In the September 2015 issue of the journal Oceanography, Drs. Jeffrey Schell, Amy Siuda, and Deb Goodwin reported that the massive amounts of brown algae inundating Caribbean beaches are not coming from the Sargasso Sea as previously thought.

Instead, they said it supports the theory proposed by other scientists that it is coming from a southern portion of the Atlantic known as the North Equatorial Recirculation Region.

The group further concluded that a third form of Sargassum — S. natans VIII Parr — has been dominating the Western Tropical Atlantic, Eastern Caribbean, and Antilles though it previously rarely appeared in these areas.

The data for the study was collected between November 2014 and May 2015.

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