Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sargassum seaweed no threat to humans


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THE CONTINUOUS INFLUX of sargassum seaweed on beaches across Barbados poses no threat to human health.

But, a statement from the National Conservation Commission (NCC) today advised against swimming in areas where the seaweed was stagnant and had started to decompose.

 “In some cases, marine litter may become entangled in the seaweed, fish may become trapped, both of which contribute to the odours and appearance of the seaweed while it decomposes. However, this process is not toxic and poses no threat to humans,” the NCC statement indicated.

In recent months, the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage, through the NCC, the Drainage Unit, and the Coastal Zone Management Unit, and the Ministry of Transport and Works, have worked persistently to clear beaches from the seaweed, which is blocking waterways, bays and beaches.

A national clean-up of the seaweed is planned for Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3, at Skeetes Bay, River Bay, Consett Bay, Bathsheba, Cattle Wash, Barclays Beach, Long Beach, Silver Sands, Foul Bay and Crane Beach.

The clean-ups will all start at 6 a.m.

Sargassum seaweed grows to several metres and floats in the ocean in island-like masses. The berry-like structures are gassed-filled bladders that allow the plant to float. They are propelled through the ocean by wind and currents and arrive on shore.

It provides a habitat for turtles and other organisms; provides forage for birds and other creatures on the beach; helps control soil erosion when deposited on the beach, and is utilised as a fertiliser by farmers, plant nurseries and horticulturalists.

The sargassum seaweed first arrived on Barbados’ shores in 2011, and is not a new phenomenon to the island. However, the volume of the algae arriving has increased dramatically. (BGIS)


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