It arrived like a silent visitor of the sea, appearing in one area – then another – and another. Sargassum seaweed. Along the south east and north coasts of the island, heaps of the moss/seaweed are more prominent and seen along the shoreline.
After a few days, the colour of it darkens as it’s dried by the sun, and acid is released into the atmosphere.
Sargassum seaweed (called “moss” by fishing vets) has returned and is seen along some part of the island, mostly on, but not limited to, the east coast.
In 2015, sargassum seaweed was a hot topic in Barbados and around The Caribbean. I wondered if many were pausing to consider that there could be a purpose for it, or at the very least, a lesson to be learned from its arrival, even if that lesson was to observe our own reaction and sudden collective concern for the state of the sea.
The fact that “Bim” has designed itself to be economically dependent on tourism, with turquoise beaches as the attraction pitch and “calling card”, compelled communication barriers between classes and colours to be broken down, and many become proactive, sending tractors to clear several beaches and dump the seaweed elsewhere. Not exactly (or at all) a long-term solution – more of a quick fix, but still a step.
Discussions on its origin (sargassum) and possible uses flooded the internet, radio talk show programs and print media.
Innovative gardening enthusiasts and farmers started collecting, drying and utilizing the seaweed as a natural fertilizer to nourish the earth and combat an unwanted and resilient crop consumer – snails!
I’ve been doing some research online on the sargassum seaweed and learned it can also be a fuel source? Anyone have more info on this? If so, what can we do to get started?
For years, the seaweed passed by once a year, but as of 2015 it started arriving in droves and two years after its exodus, the shrub-like swimmer returns in short stints.
Special Update (as of June 2nd, 2020 – years after this post was written), a Barbadian chemist duo of OASIS Laboratory, is the first to launch a sargassum-based skin-care business.
The birds find the seaweed intriguing, often swooping and sitting down on the mass, scouting around for fish and other salty appetizers.
Lots more to learn about this seaside visitor, and will share the fruit of research here in another post on this blog. Do you have any insight, and knowledge on sargassum seaweed to share?
There are still nuff beaches that remain turquoise and crystal clear, yet the island is so small that we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend we’re not aware of the ocean visitor that still affects and perplexes so many.
Here’s a blue-water beach picture:
Up next: “Tree Tips for Tropical Travelers.”