That Darn Sargasso!

Why is there so much darn Sargasso on area beaches?

Half Moon Bay, 25-03- 2015
Half Moon Bay, 25-03- 2015

Also known as Gulfweed, this marine plant has air bladders that help keep it afloat. The sargasso also has small berries that vacationers like to pop between their fingers! For the past few months, we’ve been seeing quite a bit of this brownish-red stuff washed up on our shores.

Contrary to what was previously thought, satellite images are showing that the origin of the current influx of algae is not the Sargasso Sea, but an area north of the estuary of the Amazon River off the coast of Brazil. According to Lori Lee Lum at the Institute of Marine Affairs, the sargasso is being transported into the Caribbean via the North Brazil Current, Guyana Current, and Antilles Current.   Once it arrives in our region, local oceanographic and meteorological conditions facilitate its spread.

The Amazon offshore region hasn’t been associated with Sargassum growth in the past. Scientists speculate that the underlying causes of this anomalous event, the second in recent years, may be linked to global warming and perhaps nutrient overload from the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers (Johnson et al., 2013).  Although the same phenomenon occurred in 2011, no one is seeing this as a trend.


  1. Thanks Jack, appreciate the offer for an editor, but I think we are good for now. Sargasso is actually the name of any seaweed of the genus Sargassum, so it is proper to call it either Sargasso or Sargassum.

  2. Just spent a week in Tulum. The Sargasso was prolific.. the most anyone remembers for many years. We were speculating about the impact of nitrogen runoff from the Mississippi creating a bloom, so it’s interesting to hear that this is coming from the Amazon.

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