A quick update from new NCSU graduate student Andrew Maurer on the sargassum mats in the Eastern Caribbean. Thanks Andrew.
“Huge influxes of sargassum seaweed on coasts and nearshore waters throughout the Caribbean are drawing more and more attention from all sectors, especially conservation organizations. There are benefits to beaches such as stabilization and vast nutrient provision. Oceanic sargassum is also an essential habitat for sea turtles in early life history stages. However, it may be problematic to sea turtles in the coastal realm.
Barbados has reported high levels of juvenile strandings due to sargassum buildup, and even a stranded pilot whale (http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/69382/action-sargassum). Here on Long Island, Antigua, it has a strong presence on the study beach (pictured). We are worried about its effects on various aspects of nesting ecology, and are especially concerned about hatchling emergence when nests start hatching in 3-4 weeks. It is not fun to walk and wade through for turtle patrols, either! The sargassum may subside every now and then, but is inevitably replenished. An important topic to monitor in the region!”