Sunday, July 25, 2010


I can't begin to describe what a glorious morning it was on the beach. Until yesterday afternoon, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to run my Sunday patrol due to high surf and flooding conditions at Ft. Pickens.

But instead, this morning I was treated to cottonball clouds and knee-high breaking waves. Sargassum was piled high along the shoreline, delighting the birds.

If you are looking down from a condo in the next couple of days, don't despair if you see large patches of something reddish-brown floating in the surf. It may not be oil-related, but so much sargassum is washing in that you'll think Mother Nature ran her own Sam's Club special.

Sargassum is like Krispy Kreme doughnuts for shore birds and other small marine creatures. Small mussels and crustaceans get mixed in with the seaweed, giving smaller birds a great place to forage as well as a place to hide.

In the photo above, you may also think you're looking at tiny tar balls mixed in with the sargassum, but they are really tiny air pockets or bladders which help the seaweed stay afloat. They look very much like seeds close up.

Most people don't like to see the beach covered with ugly brown sargassum, and I admit feeling the same way until I learned what an important role it plays in our marine eco-system. Now I see it in a whole new light.

If you'd like to learn a little more about sargassum, you may click HERE to read a transcript from Living on Earth: The Need for Seaweed.

Those of you on Facebook may also want to check out Public Radio International's Living on Earth.

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