Islands north of Trinidad and Tobago and the Southern Windwards are being advised to brace for moderate to severe surges of Sargassum over the next coming months. This is according to the latest Sargassum Sub-Regional Outlook Bulletin published by the UWI Centre for Resource Management and Environment Studies (CERMES), Cave Hill, Barbados.
Through the first quarter of 2022, the Eastern Caribbean experienced moderate to severe influxes of Sargassum, which is forecast to continue through the next several weeks but mainly north of the Southern Windwards. The report noted that the level of Sargassum is expected to remain at moderate to severe levels through March and into April.
There have been 63% less seaweed visible in the Atlantic than last year, as of March 2022, and well below 2018 levels, which were the worst recorded to date.
At least through May 2022, islands across the Eastern Caribbean are set to receive moderate to severe Sargassum influxes, particularly for the Lesser Antilles’ central islands. The surge in seaweed mats has subsided for Trinidad and Tobago, at least until late May.
The outlook notes
- Northern Islands (Dominica northward): Mild influxes from now until late April when levels are expected to increase to moderate levels.
- Central Islands (St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Martinique, including Barbados): Moderate to severe influxes over the next three months, with spikes expected at the end of March and early May.
- Southern Islands (Grenada and the Grenadines to T&T): Mild to moderate influxes with peaks expected in mid-March and the end of May, with mild levels in between.
Tourists and tourism business operators have experienced moderate to severe influxes in the past few weeks. The report noted that the sector could expect beaches and bathing areas to be periodically inundated with high quantities of Sargassum in the coming weeks, especially in the middle islands.
Fisherfolk have reported low catches of flyingfish in the past three months, and according to the report, they should expect some disruption at windward landing sites. Beach and shore-side markets in the middle islands will likely require clean-up efforts.
Given the current forecast for the middle islands, consumers can expect continued availability of almaco jacks (amber fish) in the coming months. Beached Sargassum may provide a challenge for leatherback turtles laying eggs during their March to May nesting season.
As of March 14th, 2022, a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of South Florida (USF) shows varying levels of risk for Sargassum landings across the Lesser Antilles. There is the lowest risk for Trinidad, Tobago, and Barbados, joining much of the Leeward Islands. However, Grenada to Guadeloupe has a moderate to high risk of Sargassum inundating coastlines.
Source: T&T Weather Center 03/17/2022