Research and Application News
Washed up: Sargassum blankets beaches
30 July 2019
Over the last month, massive quantities of the Sargassum seaweed have been washing up on the shores of Mexico, Florida in the US and some Caribbean islands, creating a serious environmental problem and causing havoc for the tourist industry. ESA has been tracking this slimy infestation.
Sargassum is a large brown algae, first spotted by Columbus during his voyage to the Americas. Out at sea, Sargassum is an important habitat for marine species providing food, refuge and breeding grounds. However, when it collects along coastlines, it rots, producing a pungent smell and attracting flies. This can mean a real problem for tourism in coastal communities.
Image credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO - Sargassum in Guadeloupe