A strange phenomenon occurred in the Caribbean in 2011. A massive tide of sargassum, brown invasive algae, washed on to the shores of the region’s popular beaches. A similar event is occurring today. Tourism officials are disgruntled by the masses of smelly brown seaweed that are inundating coastlines. Although seaweed is normally seen as a nuisance for local residents and travelers, it does offer some ecological benefits. Plus, sargassum is only temporary and it’s fairly unpredictable, so don’t let its presence in the Caribbean affect your travel plans. Here’s what you need to know about sargassum in the Caribbean.
1. Where Does Sargassum Come From?
The algae originates in the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean around Bermuda. The Atlantic is home to two species (S. natans and S. fluitans) which reproduce vegetatively and travel on the ocean’s surface. These two species are also found throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, transported by the Gulf Stream.