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Red algae is covering my beautiful white sandy beach

What to do ?

I first saw it in Haiti a few years ago. The algae was literally invading the beach of a small village, where fishermen were heading out to sea and the children were trying to swim or sail out on a "boisfillé" - a very unstable boat dug from a tree trunk.

It releases the horrible smell of rotten eggs and produces toxins that affect the nervous system of fish and other animals, according to experts.

What about people ?

Given the proliferation of this algae, the National Health Safety Agency of France has studied the effects of Sargassum found in the Caribbean. In its report, it states that the hydrogen sulphide emanating from the decomposition of the algae can be toxic, especially in high concentrations and in cases of prolonged exposure. In small doses, even in the short term, it could cause respiratory irritation. If the algae is quickly collected off the beaches, these risks should be limited.

We still suggest caution because respiratory irritation (cough, irritated eyes and throat) has been reported. Those with chronic respiratory problems, such as emphysema or asthma, should be particularly cautious and try to avoid affected areas.

Where is it found ?

In 2018, the two areas that were most affected by seaweed accumulations were mainly the Caribbean, grappling with large amounts of Sargassum, and Florida, which saw red algae collect on its west coast and Sargassum on its east coast. The Riviera Maya (the southeast coast of Mexico), the Dominican Republic and the West Indies were also particularly exposed.

Red tide blooms are very unpredictable and the situation can change according to the winds and currents. It is difficult to predict them in the long term and the websites with forecasts only predict 3 to 8 days out.

Your travel professional or the wholesaler with whom you book your trip should be able to inform you of the situation at your destination in the short term. Some online tools include the Seas Forecast site that lists and forecasts Sargassum movements in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and Visit Beaches, which traces the presence of red algae in Florida, also called the "red tide”.

It is important to inquire before leaving because once you are there, your only fallback will be the pool until the seaweed is picked up or washes away with the tide!

Christiane Théberge 

Sargassum covering a beach

In Haïti on a "boisfillé" 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

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