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The impact of Sargassum inundations on the Turks and Caicos Islands

The impact of Sargassum inundations on the Turks and Caicos Islands

Bartlett, Deborah ORCID: 0000-0002-5125-6466 and Elmer, Franzisca (2021) The impact of Sargassum inundations on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Phycology, 1 (2). pp. 83-104. ISSN 2673-9410 (Print), 2673-9410 (Online) (doi:

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Since 2011, holopelagic Sargassum fluitans and natans have been arriving en masse to the wider Caribbean region and West Africa, impacting near-shore habitats and coastal communities. We examined the impacts of the Sargassum influx on tourism-related businesses through face-to-face interviews and focus groups and on near-shore seagrass beds through in-water surveys in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). Substantial accumulations of sargassum were found on the beaches of South Caicos and Middle Creek Cay in 2018 and 2019, including a Sargassum brown tide in 2018. A variety of different approaches to removing sargassum from the beaches were mentioned and a desire from local businesses as well as local authorities to find a sustainable, cost-effective solution to what is viewed by many as a serious problem. The brown tide and sargassum accumulating as a layer on the benthos inside the seagrass beds caused significant loss of Thalassia testudinum. Halodule wrightii, macroalgae and sand plains were found in the areas lost by T. testudinum. This finding suggests that, if a cost-effective end use for sargassum could be identified, harvesting material in inshore waters rather than when it has arrived on the beach would have dual benefits.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue Sargassum Golden Tides, a Global Problem
Uncontrolled Keywords: seagrass; Thallasia testudinum; brown tide; tourism; fisheries; tour operators; management; sargassum brown tide; beach
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Q Science > QK Botany
S Agriculture > SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Algal Biotechnology Research Group
Faculty of Engineering & Science > School of Science (SCI)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2021 10:43

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