Sargassum seaweed has once again invaded several beaches along Trinidad’s East coast as mounds of the brown seaweed have once again washed ashore along the Mayaro coastline.
The phenomena was first observed in 2011 when large quantities of sargassum were seen throughout the Caribbean, impacting shorelines, waterways and tourism.
In a telephone interview, Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation (MRCRC) chairman Glen Ram said the seaweed had been observed on stretches of beach including such popular areas as Plaisance road, Church road and Indian Bay.
“There is a lot of seaweed especially in the Indian Bay area and the Corporation as of tomorrow, (Thursday), would be putting things in place to get some of the equipment out and start cleaning of the beaches,’ he said.
“I have asked for an estimate because from now until Easter, there will be an influx of people and a lot of water courses would need to be cleared so I have asked for an estimate to be sent to the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government to get some additional funding as we head into the Easter period.”
Ram said the Corporation’s in-house equipment such as backhoes and a beach cleaner could be used on those beaches which were not overwhelmed with the seaweed. “Some areas we would be able to clean but some will need additional resources because the amount of seaweed that you have at this time,” Ram said.
He said the Corporation would consider taking the seaweed to a site adjacent to the Mafeking cremation site.
The site had been used as a dump for the sargassum in previous years as it is slow to decompose and emanates a foul smell.
In a Facebook post, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management stated that significant quantities of Sargassum seaweed have been observed off the south eastern coast of Trinidad, mainly on Mayaro Beach.
“Citizens, tourists and all marine interests are urged to be vigilant and exercise caution when on the nation’s beaches and venturing out to sea,” the ODPM stated.
In a paper published in 2011 by the Institute of Marine Affairs stated that the species being observed on our shores is a “brown, macro-algae called Sargussum fluitans, often found in association with Sargassum natans, both native to the Caribbean and both commonly called sargassum seaweed.”
“Floating sargassum mats provide food, shelter and protection for a wide diversity of animals and plants, including species of algae, nudibranchs (sea slugs), shrimps, crabs, tubeworms, fish and other invertebrates, some of which are endemic (not found elsewhere) to the sargassum ecosystem,” the IMA stated.