Thursday, 21 August 2014

Seaweed Ashore in the Caribbean

When you look at a beach you may think of it as a desert, with little in situ primary production "seaweed". This is because the mobile sand prevents plants and algae communities from establishing. All the fauna living on beaches have to rely on the import of food, such as storm-cast seaweed, to survive. When the seaweed is cast ashore it starts to decompose and becomes a veritable feast for invertebrates. 

As everyone is complaining about the seaweed in San Pedro, Ambergris, Caye Their's nothing much but, to keep clean along the beach as much as we can. This are aquatic plant-like algae. For its use in food, see Edible seaweed; for the similarly-named plant, see Seagrass; for other uses, see Seaweed(disambiguation). Seaweed is a macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine algae.  Most of them are the green (about 1500 species), brown (about 1800 species) or red (about 6500 species) kinds, samples of which are each illustrated on this page, and most are attached by holdfasts, which generally just have an anchorage function, although a particularly efficient one. 

Seaweeds can also be classified by use (as food, medicine, fertilizer, filtration, industrial, etc.). At this time of the year it travels to the Caribbean “This is completely unprecedented,” said David Freestone, executive director of the Sargasso Sea Alliance in Washington, which has been fielding reports of unusual quantities of the seaweed washing ashore in places as far-flung as Sierra Leone in West Africa. While small amounts of Sargassum are normally found in the Caribbean from May to September when regional currents and winds transport the floating algae to the islands, such large accumulations across so many regions, he said, has “never happened in living memory.”

Theories as to why range from shifts in ocean currents to climate change to the gulf oil spill. But at least for now, “it’s a mystery,” Mr. Freestone said.

Resorts and tourism officials fear that the weed could linger into high season, which starts in November, but anecdotal reports suggest that the worst may be over. Ramon Roach, a water-quality analyst for the Barbados Coastal Zone Management Unit who has been part of the effort to clear the weed, said that in the last week and a half, “we haven’t seen any additional seaweed coming from the sea.” Seaweed can be found washed ashore after a storm that agitates the water and breaks the seaweed off wave action wind currents and high tide tend to bring it onshore. 

Ecosystem   effects   of   harvesting   seaweed   for   biofuel

Three sources of seaweed have been suggested for the extraction of biomass for biofuel: harvesting of wild seaweed that is attached to rocks; collection of storm-cast seaweed from beaches; and aquaculture of seaweed on long-lines. This PhD project focuses on the ecological importance of beach-cast seaweed and the potential impacts of its removal for biofuel. The study area is North and South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, where large amounts of seaweed are cast ashore each year.

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