Nothing ruins a trip to the beach like having to navigate through piles of rotting seaweed to get to the water. It’s also a challenge to have in ponds and lakes, as it clogs and chokes up these small bodies of water, which creates the need for aquatic weed control.
What Is It?
Sargassum is a totally natural, brown, “bushy” seaweed, and there are more than 300 different species of it. Because it’s not exotic, there are many species that have essentially been around forever. It was given its name in the 15th century by Portuguese explorers because it reminded them of “sargaco,” the wooly rock rose often found growing in the waters of Portugal.
What Are the Eco Impacts?
When sargassum gets into our residential lakes and ponds, it often causes a need for aquatic weed control to keep it from proliferating. When it’s out in the ocean, however, sargassum does serve as a food source for some species of fish and sea urchins. Large seaweed patches also provide a vital habitat to more than 100 species of various shrimp and crabs, but when it washes ashore, it can become a serious problem. As it decays, it causes foul odors and can even cause respiratory challenges for asthmatics. Wildlife can also suffer, like sea turtle hatchlings not being able to make it to the sea.