Friday, 23 October 2015

Sierra Leone's stinking seaweed linked to Caribbean invasion

Proliferation of thick brown algae is affecting fishing, tourism and marine life on both sides of the Atlantic, say scientists

Saturday 17 October 2015 12.00 BST

The pristine white beaches may not be as famous as those of the Caribbean, but their unspoilt beauty makes them a haven for locals and tourists alike. 

But now the shimmering coastline of Sierra Leone is being destroyed by a mysterious brown seaweed which scientists link to a similar invasion affecting beaches thousands of miles away on the other side of the Atlantic.

In some places the strong-smelling algae is piled up to two feet deep, attracting detritus and causing havoc for fishermen.

Jim Franks, a marine scientist who has been studying the phenomenon, believes it is the sargassum seaweed that normally inhabits the Sargasso sea in the north Atlantic Ocean.

Franks and his fellow researchers say this free-floating algae is now proliferating further south nearer the equator and is being swept onto the beaches on both sides of the Atlantic.

The intensity of it is causing concern; 2015 is one of the worst years we have seenVincent Sweeney, Unep

There have been sporadic shows of the algae in the Caribbean in the past four years, although the 2015 invasion is described by a UN official as the most “intense” yet.

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