Kingston – The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is warning the public to be on the lookout for an increase in Sargassum seaweed over the next few months.
According to NEPA, the influx is now widely considered to be part of the “new normal” facing the wider Caribbean.
The agency says that several beaches in the eastern parishes of St Mary, Portland, St Thomas, and the central parish of St Catherine are currently being heavily impacted by an influx of Sargassum.
Sargassum is a brown free-floating seaweed which is customarily not harmful and its movements depend solely on ocean currents.
Found only in the Atlantic Ocean, it provides refuge for migratory species and serves as essential habitat for several species of fish and invertebrates.
Sargassum also plays an essential role in beach nourishment, while also providing an element of shoreline stability and in the last decade, massive quantities have impacted several Caribbean Islands.
Warmer ocean temperatures, as well as the availability of increased nutrients discharged from rivers, continue to contribute to the increase in the seaweed. (CMC)