Volume 73

Comparative spatiotemporal analysis of accumulated pelagic Sargassum landings using community science data

Castro, A; E. Cardet; R. Mesidor; L.A. Iporac; D. Burkholder; J. Blumenthal; L. Collado-Vides
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Date: November, 2020

Pages: 12-14

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

City: Virtual

Country: Virtual


The regional impact of pelagic Sargassum landings that have occurred periodically since 2011 requires large-scale visualization and monitoring efforts to forecast their arrival. While efforts to monitor Sargassum were largely focused on satellite imagery, these efforts were limited in nearshore areas where the imagery resolution is less refined. Community science initiatives and databases can not only compensate the shortcomings of satellite imagery, but can also enhance the resolution of the satellite imagery by ground-truthing the models at various sites. Here we present a preliminary analysis of Sargassum accumulation levels and species composition over time and location using currently available datasets from the “Sargassum Watch” Community Science Initiative. Data collection has been conducted since 2019 via collaborations with target groups, such as sea turtle monitoring groups. A comparative analysis was conducted using data collected from Broward County of south Florida and south Grand Cayman. Accumulation photos were classified on a scale from 0-5, and species photos were identified to morphotype level. Interannual comparisons showed 2019 having higher accumulation levels in earlier months (April-May) than similar months in 2020. Significant differences were found between locations and months during the 2020 season, with Grand Cayman showing higher accumulation levels in June than Broward, though accumulations did not differ in later months. No association was detected in species composition between locations or sampling times. This analysis hopes to showcase the potential of community science initiatives as a valid and robust method of data collection to monitor Sargassum in the Caribbean Region.

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