Beachgoers across the Eastern and Southern Caribbean will get some reprieve from the scourge of sargassum seaweed for the remainder of 2021 as its levels are forecast to be mild to moderate.
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies Sargassum Sub-regional Outlook Bulletin said there is currently 45 per cent more sargassum visible in the Atlantic when compared to 2020 but the bloom is much smaller than the highs of 2018.
St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe and Dominica are set to receive more sargassum from July 19 until early September, when compared to 2020, although it will still be considered mild to moderate influxes.
The extended forecast shows moderate sargassum influxes up until the end of October. Early November through December looks set to be virtually free of sargassum.
Martinique, St Lucia, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines will continue to experience moderate sargassum influxes until the end of July. Shorelines are expected to be blanketed with at least mild levels of sargassum for much of August and September.
The sargassum influx is expected to peak in early October followed by periodic spikes from mid-month until mid-December.
Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and the Southern Grenadines are expected to receive moderate influxes of sargassum until the end of July, followed by mild to moderate influxes until the end of September.
The last quarter of the year will see moderate influxes with one peak in early December followed by mild influxes to the end of 2021.
The bulletin stated that fisher folk have a reported decrease in flying fish and dolphin fish landings in the 2020/2021 pelagic fishing season.
Fisherfolk in the middle and southern islands can expect some disruption at windward landing sites due to moderate influxes.
The bulletin warned that beached sargassum may provide a challenge for female turtles coming up to lay eggs during this nesting season.
Turtle hatchlings will face a challenge getting to sea.
There is also the possibility of marine mammals drowning as they become entangled in the seaweed.