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Sargassum accumulation may spell trouble for nesting sea turtles



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394 © The Ecological Society of America
Sargassum accumulation may spell
trouble for nesting sea turtles
Thigh-high mounds of sargassum seaweed line the
northern section of a beach on Long Island, Antigua –
an island in the West Indies – that hosts nesting hawksbill
sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) every summer. A meter
offshore – although it is difficult to tell where the shore
begins and the sea ends – the seaweed is crisp, even
crunchy underfoot. We plod through it to skirt a mangrove
tree during nightly patrols for nesting hawksbills, but the
thick seaweed soup makes wading slow and difficult. The
mass of seaweed varies with the prevailing winds and cur-
rents but often stretches over 10 m into the water. Closer
to shore, it is a warm, fly-infested mush in various states of
stinking decay. It collects on the beach to form a low but
substantial wall, at times approaching 1 m in height and
well over 2 m in width (Figure 1). And the sargassum keeps
coming. Unfortunately, this image of sargassum is becom-
ing widespread across much of the Caribbean region.
Sargassum, a genus of macroalgae that has garnered much
research attention in recent years, has been dubbed the
“floating rainforest” of the sea (Laffoley et al. 2011). The pri-
mary reason for this attention and the nickname lies in the
middle of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre: the Sargasso
Sea, where predominant ocean currents create a vortex that
amasses huge quantities of the seaweed. This unique habitat
is essential for a diverse array of fauna (Laffoley et al. 2011);
for instance, open-ocean sargassum mats provide important
nurseries for sea turtles such as loggerheads (Caretta caretta;
Mansfield et al. 2014). But, over the past half-decade, sargas-
sum has been proliferating in unprecedented quantities and
is affecting areas far from the Sargasso Sea. Massive amounts
have appeared on coasts from Florida to South America,
even reaching western Africa. As a result, sargassum is gen-
erating substantial interest among the travel and tourism
sectors, commercial enterprises seeking to harvest the sea-
weed, and conservation organizations (Smetacek and
Zingone 2013). There is some speculation as to the source of
all of this biomass, but evidence from a peak year in 2011
points to a possible origin off the coast of Brazil, north of the
Amazon River mouth (Gower et al. 2013).
This coastal influx begs the question: what does all this
seaweed mean for the region’s populations of nesting sea
turtles? Although sargassum in the open sea is a critical
nursery ground, how will coastal accumulation affect
Caribbean nesting beaches? The wider Caribbean region
hosts numerous nesting sites for six of the seven extant
marine turtle species (Dow et al. 2007); globally, these six
species are categorized from Vulnerable to Critically
Endangered by the International Union for Conservation
of Nature (IUCN 2015).
The benefits of sargassum are largely recognized among
members of the conservation community. As mentioned,
oceanic sargassum is a key habitat for neonatal and juve-
nile sea turtles (Mansfield et al. 2014), and increased preva-
lence may improve prospects of survival for these age
classes. When washed onto nesting beaches, seaweed may
serve to stabilize against erosion. It also represents a mech-
anism for the transport of marine nutrients to terrestrial
ecosystems (Polis and Hurd 1996), which further enhances
stabilization by promoting the growth of sand-holding
plants. These are important functions, given that healthy
nesting beaches are critical components of population
recovery efforts, and especially considering that only an
estimated 1 in 1000 sea turtle eggs hatch and survive the
decade or more required to reach maturity (Frazer 1986).
Based on recent experiences at our
study site on Long Island, Antigua,
however, we suspect that sargassum
may pose an emerging threat on
some nesting beaches, where it can
act as a barrier. Crescent-shaped
Pasture Bay, the primary nesting
beach on Long Island, is windward
facing (in contrast to many other
hawksbill beaches) and oriented
north–northeast. This positioning
makes it an ideal area for accrual of
sand and a choice landing spot for
female hawksbills seeking a nesting
site. Unfortunately, the geography
and the typical prevailing currents
also mean it is a perfect sargassum
Nearly 90 individual hawksbills laid
Figure 1. Immense quantities of sargassum have been washing ashore on Long Island,
around Antigua, and across the Caribbean in waves over the past 5 years.
E De Neef
AS Maurer et al. Natural History Notes
© The Ecological Society of America
Andrew S Maurer1,2, Emma De Neef1,
and Seth Stapleton1,3*
1Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project, Long Island, Antigua, West
Indies; 2Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina
State University, Raleigh, NC; 3Department of
Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology,
University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN
M Watkins-Gilkes
eggs at >310 nests on Long Island in 2014, with
the majority deposited along the 650-m-long
Pasture Bay. Such high nesting densities make
every section of suitable habitat valuable, and
over the past three decades, the northern por-
tion of Pasture Bay has been among the sites
most intensively used by hawksbills. During
2015, however, in those north stretches where
massive amounts of sargassum have accumulated
(~10% of Pasture Bay’s shoreline), there has
been virtually no nesting activity. We have
recorded little nesting activity in sections with
more variable presence of sargassum (an addi-
tional 10–15% of the Bay’s coastline). These
findings suggest that dense sargassum can hinder
or altogether preclude access to preferred nest-
ing locations, effectively shrinking the primary
nesting beach by as much as 25%. If the sargas-
sum persists, already high nesting densities will
climb higher in those areas unaffected by sargas-
sum, increasing the chances of nesting hawksbills digging
into previously laid nests. Such destruction of in situ
clutches has been observed here for more than a decade,
even without the sargassum further concentrating nests.
Impeded access to nesting sites is not the only potential
problem for sea turtles. We hypothesize that seaweed that
is pushed over incubating nests by waves on particularly
narrow beaches (such as northern Pasture Bay) or by
beach cleaners may create an anoxic and contaminated
incubation environment when it decomposes, and may
alter thermal conditions (our preliminary data suggest a
cooling effect, which could result in the production of
more male hatchlings since gender is temperature-depen-
dent in this taxon). Hatchlings that successfully emerge
from nests along sargassum-affected stretches of shoreline
will face further obstructions both on land and at sea
(Figure 2), and their use of wave direction to navigate
during the initial offshore migration (Salmon and
Lohmann 1989) may be compromised. These factors, in
turn, may increase mortality through hyperthermia,
exhaustion, drowning, and vulnerability to predation.
Sea turtles face a multitude of threats, including har-
vesting, degradation of key foraging and nesting sites, and
bycatch in the fisheries industries (Lutcavage et al. 1997;
Bräutigam and Eckert 2006). Although most threats are
well understood, mass seaweed stranding is a new phe-
nomenon, especially in the eastern Caribbean, and its
direct impacts on sea turtle nesting remain largely unex-
plored. While sargassum may enhance beach stability, we
do not view widespread coastal accumulation as an over-
whelming ecological positive. Indeed, the direct conse-
quences of sargassum accumulation on beaches may be a
detriment to nesting sea turtles and their offspring in
some areas. Sea turtles are ancient relics that have with-
stood the test of time, and their high reproductive output
can buffer against the occasional poor nesting season.
Nevertheless, new and sustained threats can have severe
consequences for populations that are already imperiled.
On Long Island, we have borne witness to a nearly
threefold increase in nesting numbers since the inception
of our monitoring program in 1987. This is encouraging
news for a critically endangered species (Mortimer and
Donnelly 2008). However, the altered nesting behavior
we have observed and the postulated impacts of sargas-
sum on nests and hatchlings are concerning.
Unanswered questions about the current sargassum
strandings make for an unpredictable future. Sargassum may
wash out with storms, and the rafts of seaweed may cease to
appear in nearshore waters, providing a respite to the
region’s beaches and sea turtles. Yet, any reprieve may be
short-lived; some scientists suggest that sargassum influxes
may reflect larger-scale climatic changes, so high concentra-
tions of seaweed may be a new reality that the Caribbean
region will have to contend with in the years to come.
The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project is generously supported
by the Jumby Bay Island Company and is a member of the
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. J
Horrocks provided useful comments on an earlier version
of this text.
Please see WebReferences
Figure 2. Hatchlings, such as this neonatal hawksbill turtle that succumbed
in the nearshore waters of eastern Antigua, may struggle through the dense
mats of sargassum as they attempt to begin offshore migrations.
... Las playas a las que llega el sargazo en cantidades masivas se cuentan por cientos en más de una veintena de países, aunque la atención se ha centrado en las playas turísticas, tiñendo de marrón las aguas caribeñas cercanas a la costa, y generando las llamadas mareas marrones (van Tussenbroek et al., 2017), con graves consecuencias ecológicas en las áreas afectadas (Maurer et al., 2015). El coste ambiental de la retirada de sargazo contribuye a una mayor erosión de las playas (Rodríguez-Martínez et al., 2016), y pueden potencialmente contaminar los acuíferos tras su acumulación en acopios depositados tierra adentro (Rodríguez-Martínez et al., 2020). ...
... Las masas de Sargassum spp. en tierra y cerca de la costa interfieren también el viaje de las tortugas juveniles, afectando su anidación causada por las actividades de recolección y limpieza mecánica en la playa, con su consecuente compactación (Maurer et al., 2015(Maurer et al., , 2018. Durante el 2015 en la península de Guanahacabibes (S de Cuba), se registró una llegada de sargazo de 1,5 m de potencia que afectó, en un 50 %, el éxito de anidación de las tortugas (Azanza-Ricardo & Pérez-Martín, 2016). ...
... Las masas de sargazo en la costa pueden extenderse decenas de metros en el agua y forman una barrera para las tortugas nidificantes y las crías (Fig. 4). Durante el evento de 2015, se observó que el sargazo en la playa actuaba como una barrera que impedía el acceso de las tortugas carey en playas de Antigua, donde no hubo actividad de anidación en los tramos con cantidades masivas de sargazo (Maurer et al., 2015). La acumulación en las playas también puede afectar la eclosión de tortugas por la compactación relacionada con la actividad de limpieza mecánica, o la mortalidad de huevos cuando los nidos están afectados por lixiviaciones, o bien tortugas recién nacidas que no podían pasar la barrera del sargazo en Cuba (Azanza-Ricardo & Pérez-Martín, 2016; Gavio & Santos-Martínez, 2018). ...
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Article La retirada de restos vegetales de Sargassum spp. depositados sobre la playa emergida constituyen una parte de la limpieza de playas en el Caribe. Estas gestiones realizadas a lo largo de las últimas décadas han dado lugar a la pérdida de superficies y volúmenes de playa y dunas. El estudio analiza los volúmenes de sedimento retirados mediante la limpieza de Sargassum spp. en 12 playas de México y República Dominicana, cuantificando el volumen total en 18.987,3 m 3 , con un 61,23 % de sedimento intercalado, equivalente a 9.872,36 T de arena. Este tipo de ges-tión supone un impacto geomorfológico continuo con una importante pérdida de sedimento anual que afecta a la estabilidad del balance sedimentario del sistema playa. Palabras clave: Caribe, Sargassum spp., limpieza de playas, erosión. Loss of sediment associated with the removal of deposits of Sargassum spp. on the beaches of the Caribbean Part of the cleaning of beaches in the Caribbean islands involves the removal of Sargassum spp. that remains deposited on the emerged beach and dunes. The study analyses the volumes of sediment removed with the Sar-gassum spp. at 12 beaches in México and the Dominican Republic, quantifying the volume of material removed at 18,987.3 m 3 , of which an estimated 61.23 % (or 9,872.36 T) was sand. This kind of management involves a continuous geomorphological impact with an important loss of sediment that affects the stability of the sedimentary balance of the beach system. El turismo de sol y playa es la modalidad que mayores flujos genera a escala internacional y supone una importante aportación al producto interior bruto (PIB) en países denominados turísticos. En el Caribe, México y República Dominicana son unos de los principales destinos turísticos de este tipo con una aportación al PIB de 8,7 y 8,4 % respectivamente, y modelos turísticos basados en el producto turístico litoral. Para mantener una playa a largo plazo, el balance debe ser positivo, o al menos equilibrado, ya que los balances negativos en última instancia causan su erosión (Komar, 1999). La presión derivada de la industria turística ha hecho que muchos ambientes sedimentarios litorales se hayan visto gravemente afectados a lo largo de la costa. Los ambientes litorales de México y República Dominicana (Fig. 1) están some-tidos desde hace décadas a una problemática geoam-biental asociada a su uso y explotación (Peynador & Méndez-Sánchez, 2010; Roig-Munar et al., 2018; Guima-rais et al., 2021), pero en la última década presentan la llegada y varado masivo de sargazo, la gestión de su retirada generando impactos geoambientales con pérdida de superficie y volumen de playa. Una de las preocupaciones fundamentales nace inicialmente desde el sector turístico en la región del Caribe por la afectación que implican las grandes masas de sargazo Pérdida de sedimento asociada a la retirada de depósitos de Sargassum spp. en las playas del Caribe
... These harvesting efforts were initially carried out in response to stranding events and placed significant strain on the economy of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Liranzo-Goḿez et al., 2021). Furthermore, shoreline harvesting contributed to coastal erosion (Liranzo-Goḿez et al., 2021) and negatively impacted sea turtle nests and hatchlings (Maurer et al., 2015;Schiariti and Salmon, 2022). In-water harvesting is currently being developed to reduce the impacts associated with mechanical shoreline harvesting and provide the large quantities of fresh clean (high quality) sargassum required for many applications (Liranzo-Goḿez et al., 2021;Webber and Maddix, 2021). ...
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Mass accumulations of pelagic sargassum (Sargassum natans and S. fluitans) in the Tropical Atlantic, across the Caribbean and off the coast of West Africa, are causing extensive ecological and socioeconomic harm. The extraordinary volumes of sargassum influxes could also provide a business opportunity if innovative ways are developed to utilise the raw material. In-water harvesting provides the best opportunity to collect substantial amounts of 'fresh' sargassum that can be used in a variety of applications. However, sargassum rafts are living and diverse ecosystems with a range of associated fauna including fish that are targeted by fishers. The consequences of in-water harvesting of sargassum on the biodiversity, including associated fishes, remain poorly understood. Characterisation of this biodiversity within nearshore and offshore environments is needed to help guide best harvest practices and assess possible impacts on fishing opportunities. We assessed the free-swimming fauna associated with sargassum rafts at various distances from shore with the use of underwater video recordings. Over a three-month period, a total of 35 underwater surveys were conducted off the eastern and southern coastline of Barbados. Thirteen species (12 fishes and one comb jelly) from 8 families were identified, with the family Carangidae representing the greatest number of species (n=6). Application of the MaxN metric (maximum number of individuals of a species seen during deployment) revealed significant correlations with raft characteristics notably raft volume, raft distance from shore and water depth. The three environmental variables accounted for 9% of the variation (adjusted R 2) in the free-swimming community composition with raft volume being the major driver of species richness. This aligns with ecological theory and supports our hypothesis that larger rafts would host greater species richness. The results demonstrate a strong affiliation between pelagic sargassum rafts and species biodiversity and abundance that will need to be considered by managers when seeking a best compromise between protecting beaches from inundation by sargassum and protecting biodiversity and fishing opportunities.
... In some cases, extensive accumulation of beach wrack can produce some negative ecological impacts, especially when appearing in large volumes. For instance, beach wrack may be a detriment to nesting sea turtles and their offspring by physically hindering access between their nests and the ocean (Maurer et al., 2015)). It can also have negative impacts on some invertebrates (e.g., meiofauna, wedge clam) through physical disturbance or creating anoxic conditions during decay (Hyndes et al., 2022). ...
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Macroalgae and seagrass wash ashore by tidal waters and episodic events and create an ocean-to-land transport of carbon and nutrients. On land, these deposits (beach wrack) are consumed by macrofauna, remineralized by microorganisms, or washed back to the sea, during which recycling of carbon and nitrogen affect the biochemical cycles in coastal zones. Manual quantification of beach wracks is time-consuming and often difficult due to complex topography and remote locations. Here, we present a novel method using Unoccupied Aerial Vehicle (UAV) photogrammetry combined with in situ measurements of carbon and nitrogen contents of wrack to quantify marine carbon and nutrient deposits in beach zones. The UAV method was tested against placed cubes ranging from 125 to 88,218 cm3 and demonstrated a high accuracy (R2 > 0.99) for volume acquisition when compared to manual measurements. Also, the UAV-based assessments of the cross-sectional area of beach deposits demonstrated a high accuracy when compared to manual and high-precision GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) measurements without significant differences between the methods. This demonstrated that UAVs can provide detailed spatial maps, three-dimensional (3D) surface models, and accurate volumetric assessments of beach wrack deposits. In three case studies, combined with carbon and nitrogen measures, total organic carbon and nitrogen deposits in beach wracks were quantified ranging from 4.3 to 9.7 and from 0.3 to 0.5 kg per meter coastline, respectively. In conclusion, this UAV method demonstrated an effective tool to quantify ecosystem carbon and nitrogen deposits relevant to ecosystem assessments and quantification of blue carbon stocks. The method is optimal when the terrain below beach wrack deposits is known, as in the case with before-and-after or repeated surveys. Further, UAVs display strong time- and cost-effective advantages over manual methods which is amplified with increasing project scale. We propose it as a valuable method for multiple scientific and commercial applications related to environmental monitoring and management, including marine resource exploration and exploitation.
... Floating macroalgae are prevalent across global coastal waters, but certain macroalgae blooms are especially well-known due to their magnitude; for example, Sargassum in the Sargasso Sea (and the Caliban Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) and macroalgae blooms of Ulva species off the coast of Qingdao (the Yellow Sea), China (often referred to as green tides) (e.g., [1,2]). High quantities of floating macroalgae and their beaching have major implications on ecosystems and economies [3,4]. On the other hand, floating macroalgae provide a habitat for aquatic animals, including fishes that use them as breeding grounds or travel with macroalgae rafts as juveniles. ...
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Floating macroalgae information is required to manage coastal environments and fishery resources effectively. In situ observations and analyses can result in under-sampling, thereby challenging the comprehension of the floating macroalgae abundance and spatiotemporal alterations. This study reports the spatiotemporal variation of floating macroalgae distribution around Japan from 2018 to 2021 using Global Change Observation Mission-Climate/second-generation Global Imager data. We employed the floating algae index (FAI) scaled from local ocean FAI to minimize the effect of spatial variation in ocean color. Fractional macroalgae coverage in a pixel was determined using a linear unmixing algorithm with lower and upper thresholds. The lower threshold was determined using the cumulative frequency of the scaled FAI, and the upper threshold was modified based on the more precise Sentinel-2 data. The results revealed that monthly macroalgae coverage varies spatially and seasonally, peaking in the spring and summer in the southwestern area. The macroalgae distribution particularly expanded from the East China Sea to west Japan during spring. In 2018–2021, the total biomass of the offshore floating macroalgae was estimated to be 8880–133,790, 8460–141,900, 3910–70,380, and 4620–61,870 tons. The findings of this study validated the empirical knowledge about specific locations and can serve as a reference to analyze temporal and spatial variations in future studies.
... However, since 2011, massive amounts of pelagic Sargassum algae have begun washing ashore on the coasts of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and West Africa in events known as golden tides (Amador-Castro, 2021;Wang and Hu, 2016). These golden tides threaten coastal communities, native marine and coastal ecosystems, and tourism (Alvarez-Filip et al., 2019;Maurer et al., 2015;van Tussenbroek et al., 2017). By 2015, more than 200,000 metric tons of Sargassum washed ashore Caribbean beaches (Fraga and Robledo, 2022;Milledge and Harvey, 2016). ...
Since 2011, a massive influx of pelagic brown algae Sargassum has invaded coastlines causing environmental and economic disaster. Valorizing this plentiful macroalgae can present much needed economic relief to the areas affected. Here the production of biodiesel and a high-value alginate stream using Sargassum biomass collected from the coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico is reported. Biomass was pretreated via AEA (Alginate Extraction Autohydrolysis) and enzymatic saccharification via fungal Solid State Fermentation, releasing 7 g/L total sugars. The sugar mixture was fermented using engineered Yarrowia lipolytica resulting in 0.35 g/L total lipid titer at the lab tube scale. Additionally, the capability of extracting 0.3875 g/g DW of a high-value, purified alginate stream from this material is demonstrated. The findings presented here are promising and suggest an opportunity for the optimization and scale up of a biodiesel production biorefinery for utilization of Sargassum seaweeds during seasons of high invasion.
... To understand these processes, we need studies conducted at larger spatial and temporal scales, involving the dynamics of wrack inputs and connectivity of beaches to source ecosystems, presumably using data from remote sensing and other synoptic resources. For example, wrack on tropical beaches have essentially been ignored, yet they are experiencing increased deposition of Sargassum (Maurer, de Neef & Stapleton, 2015;Schell, Goodwin & Siuda, 2015), and other macroalgal inputs as coral reefs transition to turf macroalgae (Sura et al., 2019). Quantifying the biomass and composition of wrack will play a critical role in determining the shifts in supply over these timescales, and particularly in relation to the impact of the shifting state of donor systems due to climate change and invasive species. ...
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Sandy beaches are iconic interfaces that functionally link the ocean with the land via the flow of organic matter from the sea. These cross-ecosystem fluxes often comprise uprooted seagrass and dislodged macroalgae that can form substantial accumulations of detritus, termed 'wrack', on sandy beaches. In addition, the tissue of the carcasses of marine animals that regularly wash up on beaches form a rich food source ('carrion') for a diversity of scavenging animals. Here, we provide a global review of how wrack and carrion provide spatial subsidies that shape the structure and functioning of sandy-beach ecosystems (sandy beaches and adjacent surf zones), which typically have little in situ primary production. We also examine the spatial scaling of the influence of these processes across the broader land-and seascape, and identify key gaps in our knowledge to guide future research directions and priorities. Large quantities of detrital kelp and seagrass can flow into sandy-beach ecosystems, where microbial decom-posers and animals process it. The rates of wrack supply and its retention are influenced by the oceanographic processes that transport it, the geomorphology and landscape context of the recipient beaches, and the condition, life history and morphological characteristics of the macrophyte taxa that are the ultimate source of wrack. When retained in beach ecosystems, wrack often creates hotspots of microbial metabolism, secondary productivity, biodiversity, and nutrient remineralization. Nutrients are produced during wrack breakdown, and these can return to coastal waters in surface flows (swash) and aquifers discharging into the subtidal surf. Beach-cast kelp often plays a key trophic role, being an abundant and preferred food source for mobile, semi-aquatic invertebrates that channel imported algal matter to predatory invertebrates, fish, and birds. The role of beach-cast marine carrion is likely to be underestimated, as it can be consumed rapidly by highly mobile scavengers (e.g. foxes, coyotes, raptors, vultures). These consumers become important vectors in transferring marine productivity inland, thereby linking marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Whilst deposits of organic matter on sandy-beach ecosystems underpin a range of ecosystem functions and services, they can be at variance with aesthetic perceptions resulting in widespread activities, such as 'beach cleaning and grooming'. This practice diminishes the energetic base of food webs, intertidal fauna, and biodiversity. Global declines in seagrass beds and kelp forests (linked to global warming) are predicted to cause substantial reductions in the amounts of marine organic matter reaching many beach ecosystems, likely causing flow-on effects for food webs and biodiversity. Similarly, future sea-level rise and increased storm frequency are likely to alter profoundly the physical attributes of beaches, which in turn can change the rates at which beaches retain and process the influxes of wrack and animal carcasses. Conservation of the multi-faceted ecosystem services that sandy beaches provide will increasingly need to encompass a greater societal appreciation and the safeguarding of ecological functions reliant on beach-cast organic matter on innumerable ocean shores worldwide.
... However, since 2011, massive amounts of pelagic Sargassum algae have begun washing ashore on the coasts of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and West Africa in events known as golden tides (Amador-Castro, 2021;Wang and Hu, 2016). These golden tides threaten coastal communities, native marine and coastal ecosystems, and tourism (Alvarez-Filip et al., 2019;Maurer et al., 2015;van Tussenbroek et al., 2017). By 2015, more than 200,000 metric tons of Sargassum washed ashore Caribbean beaches (Fraga and Robledo, 2022;Milledge and Harvey, 2016). ...
... This has led to its selective removal from the most popular tourist beaches, which represent only 10% of the total of the affected area, leaving large volumes of Sargassum on the coastline. Stranded Sargassum can restrict access at turtle nesting sites, also prevent warming of nest by direct sunlight and when it begins to decompose, it generates a lethal temperature, affecting the hatching of the eggs (Maurer et al. 2015;Robledo et al. 2021). Similarly when decomposing naturally generate gases such as methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide gas, the latter with its nuisance smell of rotten eggs being one of the causes associated with the decrease in tourism in the area (Yuhendra et al. 2021). ...
Full-text available
Large volumes of pelagic Sargassum spp. have stranded periodically on the Mexican Caribbean shoreline. The aim of this research was to study the mobility of metals through the leachates released into the environment during the natural decomposition process of Sargassum spp. Fresh Sargassum samples were placed in cone-bed reactors: under laboratory and local environmental conditions. The leachate generated naturally by decomposition in both conditions was recovered periodically and analyses of pH, volume, and metal content were carried out. Sargassum biomass was monitored by electron microscopy, FT-IR, and CHNS analysis. The Sargassum biomass studied presented a C: N ratio of 24.39, making it a potential raw feedstock for biofuels and other value-added products. Calculations performed on leachate production allowed inferring that each ton of fresh Sargassum that decomposes at a controlled temperature of 27 °C can produce 316 L of leachate. This leachate can contain 5.67 g of As and other potentially toxic metals (e.g., B, Al, Cu). At the end of both experiments, the biomass that was incubated for 30 days presented a C: N ratio of 28.86, so it can still be used as raw material for biofuels; however, the Sargassum biomass that remained 180 days in incubation decreased its C:N ratio at 8.45 at this point, it can be considered a waste. The leachate generated during the natural decomposition process of Sargassum on beaches or disposal sites represents a high risk of contamination of the Yucatan Peninsula water system due to the high content of arsenic and the presence of potentially toxic metals.
... Whether males exhibit similar migratory patterns merits further study. Hawksbills are highly imperiled in this region (Mortimer and Donnelly 2008) and face threats from human activities and global environmental change (Hamann et al. 2013;Maurer et al. 2015Maurer et al. , 2021aMaurer et al. , 2021bMaurer et al. , 2022. Because the recovery of the Caribbean population will depend in part upon survival of adults, especially considering their high reproductive value (Crouse et al. 1987), identifying and protecting adult migratory and foraging habitats should be among our top priorities for conserving this species. ...
Adult female sea turtles are highly migratory, moving between foraging and nesting areas that can be thousands of kilometers apart. Conserving sea turtles and their habitats therefore depends on knowledge of space use across these migration-linked environments. Here, we describe migratory behavior of hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), a globally imperiled species. We used satellite telemetry to characterize the movements of females from nesting areas in Jamaica (n = 4) and Antigua (n = 4), West Indies, over 1998–2001. We mapped migrations and summarized space use during inter-nesting and foraging periods with kernel utilization distributions (UDs) and minimum convex polygons. Seven of eight turtles made post-nesting migrations, with paths ranging 56–1324 km in length, representing straight-line displacements of 68–1206 km. Two turtles sampled in southern Jamaica made short-range migrations within southern Jamaican waters, whereas two from northern Jamaica migrated further to foraging areas in the waters of Belize and Honduras. Three migrants sampled at Long Island, Antigua migrated to St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, and Redonda, respectively, with a fourth individual remaining resident in northeastern Antigua. Inter-nesting movements observed for three turtles produced 50% UDs ranging 12–44 km2, with centroid depths between 4–13 m. Foraging UDs for seven turtles spanned 8–111 km2 and 2–161 m in depth. Our results reveal variable migratory strategies, demonstrate international connectivity between hawksbill foraging and nesting habitats, and provide important information for Caribbean conservation efforts such as the design of protected areas or fisheries policies.
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