Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Massive Seaweed Bloom Is Smothering Life from the Caribbean to West Africa

A huge bloom of Sargassum seaweed is clogging up the Florida Keys.
Credit: Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

By Grant Currin, Live Science Contributor

 For eight years, thick mats of seaweed have smothered coral reefs, trapped sea turtles and brought economic instability to coastal communities as reddish-brown gobs of foul-smelling sargassum wash onto beaches along the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic.

These phenomena are symptoms of a massive seaweed bloom scientists are calling the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. Researchers describe the belt and explore its causes in a study published July 4 in the journal Science.

Stretching up to 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) from the Gulf of Mexico to just off the coast of western Africa, the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt appears to be the product of natural and human-caused factors.  Read more >>