Caribbean, on the Sargassum road
Since 2011, the daily life of millions of inhabitants of Caribbean coasts has radically changed with the sudden arrival of tons of Sargassum.
From Mexico to Brazil, passing by the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Saint-Barthelemy and Martinique, each country is implementing initiatives to fight against Sargassum.
Whether by trying to detect them, store them, recycle them, transform them or study them, the entire Caribbean is still trying to understand and to battle the phenomenon in order to limit their consequences on the long term economy, the environment and health; to stop the advance of Sargassum.
Brown algae, green ideas
Where does Sargassum come from? What are its connections to global warming? Why is it an issue for the environment, the economy and for health? Once collected, how to value it?
Today, a lot of research is underway and possibilities are emerging. Sargassum could become a fertilizer, a fuel or activated carbon against pesticides. What if this invasive alga was turned into a resource?
We discover three projects for the valorisation and transformation of Sargassum in Martinique and Guadeloupe, through the eyes of Sanand and Max-Manory, two Port-Louis High School (Guadeloupe) members of the Sentinel Club.
Bonus video from documentary films
Young Guadeloupeans meet the IRD Antea expedition
In Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe), young members of the Sentinel Club of Port-Louis High School are boarding the Antéa, a ship from the French oceanographic fleet. The purpose of the expedition is to carry out Sargassum sampling to understand the fauna and flora related to the seaweed beds.
Sargassum invasion and the impact of H2S on health
In Vauclin in Martinique, Dr. Dalle has an appointment with one of his patients who is suffering from H2S fumes. Far from being an isolated case, many coastal inhabitants have been affected.
Adding value to Sargassum through biogas: the hydrogen car of tomorrow?
Dominique Joly is looking into the transformation of Sargassum into methane, a high-potential gas that can be used to produce another gas: hydrogen. Those are the first conclusive tests that may allow the development of a new green economy from this complex raw material.
What if Sargassum seaweed was a good fertilizer?
In François, Martinique, a company is working on the valorization of Sargassum making it into a 100% natural fertilizer, clear of any chemical input addition. A Sargassum-based fertilizer therefore, whose properties allow the micro-organisms naturally present in the soil to be more active in decomposition.
The transformation of Sargassum seaweed into activated carbon to clean up water
A team of scientists, led by Sarra Gaspard, is studying several ways for valuing Sargassum. One lead with strong potential: the manufacture of activated carbon based on Sargassum, which could clean the soil up and contaminate the water with Chlordecone, among other things.
Collecting seaweed while cleaning the beaches
At Le Diamant, Martinique, the municipality tasked Kevin Saint-Louis-Augustin to daily pick up the Sargassum washed up on the beach. A routine collection for the greater good of the saleswomen and men of the beaches.
Retention and collection of Sargassum in Martinique: the example of Filet DROM
Alexis de Jaham, a fisherman from Martinique, tells us how Sargassum transformed his daily life, and how over time, he reoriented himself to work on the installation and maintenance of networks of floating anti-Sargassum barriers in Martinique. A long and challenging journey that started in François Bay.
Remote sensing of Sargassum in Guadeloupe with the Sentinel Club
Founded in 2015 by the retired physics teacher Gérard Escleyne and sponsored by Juerg Lichtenegger, consultant for the European Space Agency (ESA), the Sentinel Club is a group of students from Port-Louis High School. They use satellite data to identify Sargassum slicks, monitor their movement and anticipate wash ups in Guadeloupe.
Valorization of Sargassum in Saint Barthelemy
Pierre-Antoine Guibout explains that we need to value this abundant raw material and smartly reintegrate it into our traditional economic circuits. For several years, he has been studying the transformation of this algae into a paste which is sent to manufacturers for packaging production.
Turtles facing Sargassum in Mexico
The environmental impact of Sargassum events is significant, affecting mangroves, corals, fauna, and flora alike. In the state of Quintana Roo, a sea turtle protection team is working to recover the eggs laid by this species heavily impacted by strandings on several kilometers of beach. New-borns are thus released on Sargassum free beaches, increasing their chances of reaching the sea before being spotted by predators.
Retention and collection of Sargassum at sea in the Dominican Republic
It is in the Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, that we can find the longest anti-Sargassum barrier in the Caribbean. Every day, several dozen employees of Algeanova, maintain and harvest the algae accumulated against the barrier and thus preserve tourism, the Dominican Republic’s first resource.
Valorization of sargassum into compost in the Dominican Republic
The algae retained by the anti-Sargassum barriers are collected by the company Algeanova, which also takes care of their storage and their transformation into compost. After a 60-day process, the compost obtained is delivered to farmers, who benefit from an increased productivity and an improvement in the quality of their products.
From intensive agriculture to sargassum blooms : research on the origins of algae in Brazil
In Brazil, Professor José Eduardo Martinelli Filho meets with fishermen who suffer from Sargassum events and with a Quilombo community next to a tributary of the Amazon River impacted by the discharges of chemicals in the water. The specialist tries to understand the connection between these different factors.