All predictions for the 2023 sargassum season are that it will be the worst on record! Scientists out of Florida have been ‘sounding the alarm’ for over a month and National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has repeatedly put a ‘Sargassum Advisory’ in one of our daily newspapers.
Although the excessive blooming of pelagic (floating) sargassum seaweed (normally confined to the Sargasso Sea) started in 2011, Jamaica did not experience damaging amounts until 2018. In 2018 the term ‘Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt’ (GASB) was coined when 20 million metric tons (MT) of the seaweed stretched 8,000 km across the Atlantic from the coast of Ghana to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. In 2021 the quantities in May reached a new record for that month and by 2022, the GASB increased to a new record of 24 million MT! January 2023 was another record month with 8.7 million MT and so was March with approximately 13 million MT of algal biomass. Biomass estimates are provided monthly by the University of South Florida – USF, Optical Oceanography Laboratory.