The Sargassum weed comes and goes and is a frightful nuisance along our beaches. Also called gulfweed and sea holly it belongs to a genus of about 150 species that comes to our shores as free-floating algae in the open sea.
Massive quantities of Sargassum sometimes wash ashore and create an annoyance to swimmers but it does not pose a serious human health risk. This is a fairly new annoyance along our coastal areas as there was not too many occasions this took place before 2011.
The Nature Foundation forewarns the public when increased amounts of Sargassum Seaweed move in on the Eastern beaches of St. Maarten. This will happen with increasing frequency as we head into the summer months and the temperature increases when ideal conditions cause the sargassum to bloom.
Beach front restaurants, residences and hotels will be continuously cleaning up the sargassum from the sand but as yet it is not easy to remove it from the water where swimmers enjoy the waves.
The buildup of the decomposing seaweed along the shores can cause potential health problems as it emits an odor like rotting eggs which is actually a colourless, toxic and highly flammable gas called hydrogen sulfide. The gas can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory systems of those who are sensitive in both humans and dogs