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TTC Special: Tourism: How are marine algae transformed from beneficial into threats?

TTC Special: Tourism: How are marine algae transformed from beneficial into threats?

Scientists say that human activities are aggravating factors, while high ocean temperatures also play an important role. Photo: Jos De Jess Churin Del Vecchio/123RF

By Frank Martin

TTC Service.- Although in the Caribbean algae in massive proportions are threatening countries and tourism, scientists have not changed their criteria. These researchers think that marine algae have been beneficial and often played an important role in the maritime ecosystem.

In other words, floating Sargasso ponds provide an important habitat for birds and marine species in the Atlantic, while small quantities of sargassum were normal on beaches and were considered beneficial.

What happened in the last decade? The sargassum that smells like rotten eggs has been blooming excessively throughout the Caribbean.

And there are no clear explanations for the phenomenon.

However, there is a suspect under investigation.

Scientists say that human activities are aggravating factors, while high ocean temperatures also play an important role. In other words, a sequel to global warming.

It seems true that the proliferation of sargassum has been fueled by agricultural fertilizers and untreated wastewater flowing into the Caribbean and the Atlantic.

Some explanations seem convincing. Plants, animals and even microbes that live on coral reefs have developed a rich variety of defense strategies to protect themselves from predators and pollutants.

Some have defenses like spines and camouflage.

Others use more sophisticated weapons. The squids secrete a substance that allows them to escape.

Other soft-bodied or immobile organisms, such as sponges, algae, and sea jets, often defend themselves with harmful chemical elements that have bad taste and odor or are toxic.

Harmful chemicals allow predators and prey to coexist on coral reefs, increasing their diversity.

If the natural balance is not broken, the various ecosystems become more stable and resistant.

Certain practices, such as throwing fertilizers into the sea and trash can break the balance.

For some scientists that seems to have happened with the malodorous sargassum.

Anyway, that silent and previously ignored marine vegetable has already in the Caribbean and other seas, a very sinister character.

Mexico, for example, has spent $ 17 million in an attempt to eliminate 500,000 tons of sargassic algae from its Caribbean beaches.

But the problem seems to be getting worse.

And now the indifferent algae are damaging the tourist industry.

Some absence of holiday travelers begins to be noticed.

In the tourist centers of Mexico in the Atlantic Ocean and in other parts of the Caribbean Sea, occupancy rates in hotels have been reduced and tourism promoters are increasingly concerned about the threat of seaweed.

The alarms sound now like never before because of this phenomenon.

Now they must ask themselves if there is an antidote.

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