Volume 71

Towards the Development of a Sub-Regional Sargassum Outlook Bulletin for the Caribbean

Shelly-Ann Cox;Hazel Oxenford;Patrick McConney;Donald R. Johnson;James S. Franks
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Date: November, 2018

Pages: 311-314

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Andres Island

Country: Colombia


Since 2011, thousands of tons of pelagic Sargassum seaweed have piled up on beaches and in nearshore waters of many countries across the Caribbean region (Franks et al. 2016). These periodic influx events, now considered to represent a 'new normal' in this region (Maréchal et al. 2017), have significant negative implications across multiple sectors including fisheries, tourism, health and environment (Oxenford et al. 2017). They also present new potential opportunities for development of industry using Sargassum as a raw material (Hinds et al. 2016, Louime et al. 2017). Adapting to this new normal by learning to cope with, and even profit from, these influx events is a critical next step for the region, and would benefit greatly from the development and communication of reliable long and medium-term forecasts of Sargassum arrivals. A recently launched monthly Sargassum outlook bulletin for the Wider Caribbean by USF/NASA is providing timely updates on Sargassum presence in the entire region relative to previous years and comments on future bloom probability for the next three months (Wang and Hu 2017, https://optics.marine.usf.edu/projects/saws.html). This provides an excellent opportunity to develop a complimentary Outlook Bulletin at a finer sub-regional scale that would better serve the interests of individual countries. Here we present a zero-draft of a quarterly Sargassum Outlook Bulletin tailored for the Eastern Caribbean sub-region.

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