Sargassum in the Caribbean: these algae that spoil the stay of holidaymakers…

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Its name despairs local residents and worries tourism professionals. Sargassum, this brown algae that lives on the surface of the water, still besieges the Caribbean coasts. “We are expecting a dark year,” said Sylvie Gustave Dit Duflo, vice-president of the Guadeloupe region in charge of environmental issues.

The monthly bulletin from the University of South Florida (USF) notes that the quantity of algae observed in the Atlantic Ocean has reached a record level: it even “doubled from December to January”, reaching 8, 7 million tons. The previous January record dated back to 2018 (6.5 million tonnes). That year, 41,000 tons of seaweed had been collected on the Martinican coasts.

How are these sargassum formed?

The incredible accumulation of algae over millions of square kilometers is linked to a vortex created by the convergence of three major Atlantic sea currents – this clockwise circulation, generated when ocean currents collide, is known as the North Atlantic gyre. This vortex, and an excess of nutrients and agricultural chemicals is to blame. The resulting masses of sargassum (a type of brown algae, also known as “golden tides”) are a growing challenge — as Florida is currently experiencing — but this algae also presents a wealth of untapped opportunities.

The first golden tides observed in the United States were reported off the coasts of Texas and Florida in the 1980s. And since 2011, the proliferation of sargassum in the Caribbean has accelerated exponentially, increasing its biomass tenfold in the space of a few years. The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt now covers an area from Central America to the coast of West Africa. From Texas to Abidjan, these huge rafts form a strip of nearly 5,600 miles.

The Dominican Republic is also affected

The Dominican Republic welcomes more than 2 million tourists each year. For what? Because it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They offer a wide range of activities, from surfing to snorkeling.

There are eight beaches in the Dominican Republic which are considered the best. These include Playa Palmera, Playa Blanca, Bávaro Beach, Playa Rincón, Cayo Levantado, Playa Juanillo, Playa Macao and Kite Beach. Each beach offers something unique, be it white sand or turquoise water.

When does the sargassum seaweed season start in the Dominican Republic?

The sargassum seaweed season in the Dominican Republic usually begins in late spring or early summer and lasts until fall. The exact timing of Sargassum season can vary from year to year depending on various environmental factors such as ocean currents and wind patterns.

Which beaches are affected by seaweed in the Dominican Republic?

In the Dominican Republic, several beaches can be affected by Sargassum algae during the summer and fall months. Among the most affected beaches are Punta Cana, Bavaro, Uvero Alto, Macau and Cabeza de Toro. However, it is important to note that the extent and duration of Sargassum accumulation on a particular beach can vary from year to year and can also change over a short period of time.

See also our previous articles:

Sargassum invades the coastline of Florida and the Caribbean islands

Cancún: in addition to sargassum… tons of trash on the beaches!

Cancun invaded by sargassum

(…) Sargassum in the Caribbean: these algae that spoil the stay of vacationers… Sargassum invades the coast of Florida and the Caribbean islands (…)

Catherine Mills Avatar