POINTE BLANCHE–There is a large influx of Sargassum seaweed making landfall along the coastline of St. Maarten. Nature Foundation has issued a warning to residents in areas impacted or that will be impacted by the Sargassum to take precautions to avoid health effects caused by the decomposing seaweed.
“We are advising residents in especially Guana Bay and Point Blanche to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible,” said Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
When Sargassum lands and starts to decompose, hydrogen sulfide gas is released. The gas is a colorless, toxic and highly flammable gas and spreads an unpleasant odor much like the smell of rotten eggs.
Inhaling the gas in small doses can trigger irritation of the eyes and the respiratory system, especially among people who are sensitive to it. The groups most at risk are people with respiratory problems, asthma patients, elderly people, babies and pregnant women. Certain animals, especially dogs, are also sensitive to the inhalation of hydrogen sulphide.
Based on satellite imagery and field surveys, the influx started earlier this week and will continue to persist for at least for another week.
The foundation is working closely with regional partners and local stakeholders to monitor the situation and to find a way to control the amount of the weed washing up on beaches in the case of a significant influx.
“In the case of an influx we need to find a way to coordinate the removal of the seaweed in order to avoid serious risks to nesting sea turtles and hatchlings while the algae itself can be a hazard to the animals,” said Bervoets.
Nature Foundation continues to monitor the situation and will coordinate with government if and when the removal of Sargassum becomes a necessity.
Sargassum is a genus of brown (class Phaeophyceae) seaweed which is distributed throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. Sargassum first plagued St. Maarten in 2011 and 2012, with the Foundation having to warn swimmers to avoid swimming on certain beaches due to the large amount of Sargassum weed and many beach front residences and hotels having to continuously clean washed up Sargassum.
Bron: Daily Herald