Seaweed levels at beaches across Barbados are back to normal!
But there can be no guarantee that the heavy presence of the Sargassum seaweed which littered beaches from June to December last year will not return.
This was stated by Deputy Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Lorna Inniss, who disclosed that at present the cause of last year’s influx of the Sargassum seaweed was still unknown, but gave the assurance that the Unit would be better prepared to deal with its occurrence in the future.
She noted that seaweed levels at the Bath and East Coast Road beaches, both known for seaweed, had returned to normalcy. She explained that seaweed was always present on beaches, but there was a dramatic increase in its presence last year.
"We have no idea whether this is going to be an annual event or not, given that this is the very first year…I don’t know whether this summer we will be dealing with it again or not," she said.
Meanwhile, scientists are still reviewing research collected from last year’s occurrence, and they too will also be better prepared to track any return of the seaweed using satellite imagery to come up with a definitive cause.
But, Dr. Inniss explained that it would take some time before scientists could determine the answers. "There are questions as to if it is climate change related, or whether the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have caused it. These are questions and they remain questions because two-and-a-half months in scientific terms is not a lot of time to conduct the major research needed to answer some of these questions," she added.
In the interim, the action plan to clear the seaweed from affected beaches will be reactivated should there be a recurrence this year, after its successes last year. Dr. Inniss was full of praise for the public who assisted in cleaning the seaweed from beaches. "I think the public is to be commended because they not only saw it as a way
to help take care of their environment, but they also used it as a recreational and social activity as well," she said.
And, while there may be no more Sargassum seaweed to remove from the beaches, the CZMU is still receiving requests from community and youth groups to be part of clean-up exercises.
Dr. Inniss further stated that the CZMU shared elements of their clean-up plan with other Caribbean countries on request for help in dealing with a similar problem on their shores.