It has already been defined as the largest algae flowering in the world identified by a research group of the University of South Florida. This real “belt” of brown macroalgae of the genus Sargassum was identified last year.
According to the same researchers, more than 20 million tons of this seaweed belt floated on surface waters in the Gulf of Mexico, off the east coast of Florida and in the tropical Atlantic. The related study then appeared the other day in Science.
The researchers performed various analyzes and found that this algae belt is formed seasonally in response to two key events. First of all, because the Amazon during the spring and summer discharges large quantities of nutrients that are excellent for algae into the ocean. This contribution of nutrients is then amplified, according to the researchers, by the increase in deforestation from the use of fertilizers.
This is the hypothesis made by Chuanmin Hu, one of the researchers involved in the study, who also used satellite data collected since 2006 to explain the true invasion of algae of this kind off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. According to Woody Turner, director of the Ecological Forecasting Program at NASA, the vastness of these algal blooms is so great that one must use satellite images to understand their dynamics over time but also to detect their extension.
If for different marine species greater quantities of algae can mean a greater quantity of food or habitat, for other species quantities of widespread and intricate algae can become real marine prisons where it becomes difficult to move even breathe. This is the case, for example, of corals and seagrasses, other species of marine plants.
Sargassum also releases a number of gases, including hydrogen sulfide, which can become a serious problem for the environment, even for human beings who go to the beaches and who already suffer from respiratory diseases, such as asthma.
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