Sargassum becoming a major problem for sea turtles

WILLEMSTAD - The Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao rescued three sea turtles that were trapped in the sargassum weed on Wednesday. The animals regularly get into trouble because of the floating weed off the coast.

Sargassum is a brown algae that forms into floating seaweed mats. Once sargassum floats to shore, it accumulates and then sinks and rots. The rotting weed can cause a pungent odor.

“Turtles must come up every now and then to breathe. A thick layer of sargassum can prevent this, causing them to choke," Gerard Meerkerk of the Sea Turtle Conservation indicated to the Dutch news site “If a turtle can struggle through the slab, there is a good chance that it will not be able to go back and will dry up in the bright sun.”

Volunteers from the Sea Turtle Conservation regularly monitor the boka on the north side, because many turtles swim there and the situation has been alarming for some time. This concerns Bartol Bay, Playa Grandi, Boka Patrick, San Pedro and Boka Ascencion. “But the St. Joris Bay is also pretty full with weed,” said Meerkerk.


In total, the organization has recently removed five sea turtles from the sargassum seaweed. According to Meerkerk, lessons should be learned from the experiences of recent years and a solution should be looked for. “Waiting for the next sargassum invasion is not an option. The health of humans and animals is at stake.”