St. Lucia: Impact of coastal regions due to Sargassum seaweed

The island of St. Lucia has suffered due to the impacts of Sargassum seaweed over the last few years. This stinky seaweed washes up on the islands’ beaches and has been linked to a combination of released land-based nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen and ocean warming.

Sargassum affects the livelihoods of the fishermen and other locals who depend on marine life for resources as well as their health. Sargassum kills fish in the water by depleting the water of oxygen. It changes the landscape of the beaches by turning the white beaches brown and while it decomposes, a rotten egg stench is released.

Sargassum has been known to cause health and respiratory concerns once the seaweed starts decomposing. Decomposed sargassum has led to symptoms of skin rashes, headaches, nausea, and breathing difficulties. When the Sargassum is fresh, it is harmless.

The impact of Sargassum has also been felt on the island’s electrical appliances. The hydrogen sulfide in the sargassum gas has caused the oxidation of metals in people’s washing machines, televisions, refrigerators, and computers. This has affected the tourist economy as repairs have had to be made to repair corroded metals, televisions, and air conditioning units.

Removal efforts including disposal and cleanup have been costly for all agencies involved.  

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St. Lucia and Sargassum