Unusually large quantity of seaweed on beaches causes stir
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June 17, 2011

Unusually large quantity of seaweed on beaches causes stir

Officials at the Fisheries Division are trying to ascertain what has caused large amounts of sea weed to be dumped along the shoreline of this country recently.{{more}}

Residents of communities along the south and south eastern coast of the mainland have reported seeing unusually large amounts of sea weed deposited along the beach.

“It is not something that happens everyday,” Raymond Ryan, Chief Fisheries Officer told SEARCHLIGHT.

He however noted that there have also been similar sightings in neighbouring territories including Dominica, Barbados and Grenada.

According to Ryan, based on samples collected from Sion Hill Bay, the species has been identified as ‘Sargassum Natans’, adding that it was in fact, a type of algae common to this part of the world.

He further explained that it was nothing unusual to see large mats of the algae floating on the surface of the water, as this has occurred before.

But what has caused this large quantity of algae, is baffling officials at the Fisheries Division, Ryan said.

“We are not sure if it has to do with the reducing solidity, and increasing turbidity and sedimentation in the coastal zone area is an issue,” Ryan explained, adding that those possibilities would have to be checked.

Whether or not it was a case where the algae was increasing at certain periods of the year, was also another possibility, Ryan said.

But the concept of algal bloom was also put to Kris Isaacs, Biologist at the Fisheries Division.

It is unclear what causes algal bloom, although it has been noted that in some locations it occurs naturally.

Coastal water pollution and a systematic increase in water temperature are also possible contributing factors to the phenomenon of algal bloom.

However Isaacs noted that because it was not a localized event, this ruled out the possibility that the algal bloom was attributed to coastal pollution here.

“We can’t say that it’s being caused by high oxygen levels or anything like that,” Isaacs told SEARCHLIGHT.

He however noted that it was possible that the algal bloom had occurred in the Atlantic Ocean and the currents were bringing the large clumps of sea weed to our coastlines.

The phenomenon of algal bloom also has the potential to affect marine life, but according to Isaacs, there had been no evidence that the fish supply was being affected.

Rather, the worse that has occurred is that fishermen have complained that the large clumps of sea weed are proving to be a nuisance as it is getting caught in their nets.

There is one potential benefit of the seaweed invasion, however. According to a CMC report, farmers in Grenada have been reaping the algae by the truckload for use on farms, as it can be used as a natural fertilizer.(DD)