The Impact of Massive Sargassum Influx on Caribbean Reef Systems
Date: October 21, 2020
Since 2014, Mexican Caribbean reef systems have intermittently received masses of pelagic sargasso. The decomposition of these algae on the coasts generates poor appearance and smell, releasing leachates that turn the coastal sea brown. This Sargasso Brown Tide reduces light and oxygen in nearshore waters, creating a deadly environment for benthic flora (seagrass) and fauna. Sargasso Brown Tides also interfere with turtle hatching, change trophic relationships, and their influence extends to the reef, hundreds to thousand meters off-shore, and are thought to have accelerated coral infections from the "white syndrome" disease. Management of the influxes of these algal masses is urgently needed to avoid permanent damage to the Caribbean reef systems.