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Sargasso Seaweed

by Guerry Norwood

iStock_000007270887XSmallIn the last couple of days a great deal of seaweed has piled up on the beach here on St Simons Island. It’s Sargasso Seaweed and it comes from the Sargasso Sea, the western side is the Gulf Stream. When we have an extended period of east winds and swell, the seaweed is sent our way. This is a typical time of the year for the arrival of beds of Sargasso.

The Sargasso Seaweed is wonderful and is a floating city when out on the water. It is a city for a variety of marine life and sea turtles. Most of the fish have enough sense to swim out to more of it as the seaweed hits the breakers. Some of the little creatures cling on for dear life and end up on the beach where, to the delight of the shore birds, they pick thru it and eat the little shrimp and crabs that didn’t bail out in time. The Seaweed then becomes a great natural way to keep the beach in place as it sinks down into the sand and helps to hold the beach in place. Sweeping it up to please the beach goers in the long run may have the beach goers crying “where is the beach” as the beach slowly erodes away. This seaweed has piled up on these beaches for hundreds, even thousands of years and helps to renourish the fragile beach ecosystem. The creatures that live in the Sargasso are very unique and have adapted well to their floating city. Most of them are the same orange color of the seaweed itself.

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