Jennifer Gray 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Nature created something unique when she placed the picturesque islands of Bermuda in the fringe of the Sargasso Sea. This body of water’s uncanny calm contrasts the ocean around it, which declares some of the strongest currents in the world. They interconnect to transform this sea into the eye of an enormous, slow-moving maelstrom, ensuring that everything within meanders in an endless clockwise drift. The Sargassum algae gives this sea of almost 5 million square kilometers its name. Mats of this interwoven, self-sustaining seaweed, embellished with its own floatation system, drift on the high seas and shelter a unique and remarkable community of open ocean animals. The fronds of the Sargassum are the only solid natural surface in this expanse, making it the only place where sedentary animals caught in the North Atlantic gyre can become attached. A host of specially adapted critters live in this unique habitat, which provides refuge for more than 145 species of invertebrates and 125 species of fish. Many of the animals have developed the art of camouflage to the point where they are practically indistinguishable from the surrounding seaweeds. Beneath the Sargassum live larger bar jack, tripletail, Spanish sardine, ballyhoo, scad, blue runner and flying fish. Meanwhile, predatory game fish like dolphin, wahoo, tuna and billfish can be found deeper in the water column, waiting for their chance at an unsuspecting prey. Many of the species in this ecosystem are temporary residents that use this as a vital spawning ground. Seabirds such as the Bermuda cahow and longtail collect food for their young. The Sargassum is also a haven for sea turtles, dolphins and even humpback whales. Bermudians are more than familiar with Sargassum, which periodically surrounds the island and washes up on its coasts. When you encounter the banks of weed on the beach, don’t be put off by the smell or appearance; this continuing web of life provides food for our shorebirds and assists in the building of our beautiful island. In addition to having been used by Bermudians as fertilizer for our crops, the decayed weed mixes with our beach sand in the first vital stage of sand dune creation, which over time develops into stone and forms our very bedrock. Unfortunately, overfishing, harvesting for biofuel and livestock feed, and pollution threaten this ecosystem. Bermuda is at the heart of an initiative with scientists, international marine conservation groups and private donors to protect this unique and vulnerable ocean ecosystem.
Published by HCP Media. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://experiencebermuda.customtravelmags.com/article/Wide+Sargasso+Sea/1031211/107406/article.html.