Sargassum Seaweed No Threat To Humans

News Image - Sargassum Sea Weed on Barbados BeachesThe 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 6:00 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.

News Image - Sargassum Sea Weed on Barbados BeachesWith 25 beaches across Barbados being affected by the sargassum seaweed, a call is being made for volunteers to join a national clean-up effort on Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3, beginning at 6:00 a.m. each day.

Beaches earmarked for cleaning are Skeetes Bay, River Bay, Consett Bay, Bathsheba, Cattle Wash/Barclays Beach, Long Beach, Silver Sands, Foul Bay and Crane Beach.

Persons interested in participating in the effort, being coordinated by the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), are asked to contact the NCC at 425-1200, or email ncc@caribsurf.com

However, mechanical equipment is not permitted on the beaches without permission from the NCC. In addition, persons, groups or organisations interested in cleaning beaches at locations not listed above are asked to contact the NCC by Monday, April 27, to arrange for the collection of the seaweed.

The NCC is also appealing to corporate Barbados to assist with the success of this initiative by encouraging staff members to participate in the effort. “Corporate entities may wish to consider selecting a particular beach and arrange for their staff to assist in the clean-up effort under the banner or colours of their organisation,” NCC management stated.

In addition, the NCC is also requesting support through the provision of haulage trucks to assist with the collection and transportation of the seaweed to designated sites. The Commission is also seeking donations of hand rakes, gloves, garbage bags, dusk masks, bottle water and refreshments for volunteers.

Other beaches affected by seaweed are Morgan Lewis, Long Pond, Bell Air’s Beach, Lakes, Martin’s Bay, Bath Beach, Culpepper, Chancery Lane, Enterprise, Oistins, Welches, Dover Beach, Rockley, Hastings and Drill Hall.

The Ministry of the Environment and Drainage, through the NCC, the Drainage Unit, the CZMU, and the Ministry of Transport and Works, have also been working to clear the beaches of the seaweed for locals and visitors.