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Sargassum: a problem no one really understands yet

Those who don’t belive in climate change, don’t live near the Caribbean

Illustration for article titled Sargassum: a problem no one really understands yet

sargassum is a type of seaweed that found its way to many Caribbean locations way back in 2011 when ocean currents started to change significantly and sea temperatures rose.

It is a very interesting seaweed because it’s practically useless to us, and removing it can be very bad for beaches and life around them. But not removing it can be really bad for beaches and life around them.


Sargassum has a high concentration of arsenic (which means it can’t be used as animal feed), and releases hydrogen sulfide as it decomposes; leaving a rotten egg smell in the beach. More so, while sargassum is a great environment for many species of fish, the closer it gets to shallow water it causes bigger issues for them. As Sargassum grows, it removes oxigen from water, leaving fish near and below it to die from hypoxia.

Once it reaches the beach, and begins decomposing, Sargassum also causes issues for sea turtles, as nesting becomes increasingly difficult when crossing the weed. It was also linked to several cases of asthma attacks in other countries, since, you know... it releases hydrogen sulfide.


Municipalities have been slow, and dumb to react, most of them use heavy machinery or try to retrieve it while its still in the water, both ideas are discarded by biologists and oceanographers as both pose dangers to sealife and the quality of beaches. They say the only way to remove it without casuing damage is to use a shovel and a wheelbarrow.

But it’s not very practical, just in Quintana Roo, 1,300 tons of the stuff are removed every day, and the problem continues as to what to do once it’s removed. Some municipalities used to burry it under the beach as rumor had it that sargassum became sand after decomposing. 


Many see potential as a biomass fuel, but the energy content is not exactly high, sargassum contains around 2200kcals pero kilo, and burning it as a biomass could be very damaging because of the contents of the weed.

More research needs to go into it, but as of now little has been done to combat it.

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