Scientists have discovered a massive seaweed bloom stretching across nearly the entire Atlantic Ocean, from the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists have discovered a massive seaweed bloom stretching across nearly the entire Atlantic Ocean, from the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. The bloom, dubbed the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, first appeared in 2011 and has become an almost yearly occurrence, fueled in part by an influx of nutrients washed out to sea from deforestation and farming in the Amazon, researchers reported in the journal Science.
Prior to 2011, most open-ocean Sargassum plants were found in small clumps around the Gulf of Mexico and Sargasso Sea. But in 2011, satellite images showed a near-constant string of the plants stretching across the entire tropical Atlantic Ocean. In subsequent years, the seaweed belt has gotten longer and thicker. Last year, the belt contained more than 20 million tons of Sargassum — heavier than 200 fully loaded aircraft carriers, according to NASA.
“I can say that the belt is very likely to be a new normal,” Chuanmin Hu, a marine scientist at the University of South Florida who helped lead the new study, said in a statement.
Read more at Yale Environment 360