The Sargasso Sea Geographical Area of Collaboration (map from Annex I of the Hamilton Declaration). This map shows the known and predicted seamounts beneath the Sargasso Sea.
- Chung, E. “Canadian eel tracked on 2,400-kilometre migration to Sargasso Sea” CBC News. October 2015.
This is the 1st direct evidence of eels migrating to tropical nursery. It’s a mystery that has puzzled scientists for a century — how swarms of baby eels appear in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda when adults have only been found in faraway places like Canada’s St. Lawrence River.
- Partlow, J. and Martinez, G. “Mexico deploys its navy to face its latest threat: Monster seaweed” The Washington Post. October 2015.
Mexico and most of the Caribbean depend on tourism for their economy, but washed up sargassum may be threatening their prosperity.
- In the March 19th issue, New Scientist lists spawning eels as one of the “11 things we’re sure exist—but have never seen,” 16 March 2016.
Resources About The Sargasso Sea
1. Sargasso Sea Commission
Created in 2014 under the Hamilton Declaration, the Secretariat is in Washington DC. The Commission has 7 members from the five signatories to the Hamilton Convention—The United States, Bermuda, the Azores, the UK, and Monaco.
- Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea. 11 March 2014
- Annex II of the the Hamilton Declaration
- The Sargasso Sea – Scientific Information to Describe Areas Meeting Criteria for Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) – presented by The Government of Bermuda, in collaboration with the Sargasso Sea Alliance. In March 2012, the Sargasso Sea was described as an “Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area” at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Wider Caribbean and Western Mid-Atlantic Regional Workshop.
- The Sargasso Sea Commission: Saving the Atlantic Golden Rainforest
- NOAA office of the General Counsel: MPAs, The Sargasso Sea
- NOAA Library: Bibliography of the Sargasso Sea, Compiled by Chris Belter, NOAA Library Center, June 2011
- NOAA Office of Response and Restoration: What Happens When Oil Spills Meet Massive Islands of Seaweed?
3. South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council
The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) is responsible for the management of fisheries and critical habitat of from three to 200 miles off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Although the Sargasso Sea does not lie within the US EEZ, the management of sargassum areas within the US EEZ is part of supporting the health of high seas region.
- SAFMC Second Revised Final: Fishery Plan for Pelagic Sargassum Habitat of the South Atlantic Region – The final Fishery Management Plan for Pelagic Sargassum Habitat in the South Atlantic Region was approved in 2003 and implemented strict restrictions on commercial harvest of this important fish habitat.
- SAFMC Sargassum Library
- SAFMC Identification of Research Needs
Additional research is necessary to insure sufficient information is collected to support a higher level of description and identification of pelagic Sargassum habitat. In addition, research is needed to identify and evaluate existing and potential adverse effect on pelagic Sargassum habitat, including but not limited to, direct physical loss or alteration; impaired habitat quality or function; cumulative impacts from fishing; and non-gear related fishery impacts.
- What is the areal abundance of pelagic Sargassum off the southeast U.S.?
- Does the abundance change seasonally?
- Can pelagic Sargassum be assessed remotely using aerial or satellite technologies (e.g., Synthetic Aperture Radar)?
- What is the relative importance of pelagic Sargassum weedlines and oceanic fronts for early life stages of managed species?
- Are there differences in abundance, growth rate, and mortality?
- What is the age structure of reef fishes (e.g., red porgy, gray triggerfish, and amberjacks) that utilize pelagic Sargassum habitat as a nursery and how does it compare to the age structure of recruits to benthic habitats?
- Is pelagic Sargassum mariculture feasible?
- What is the species composition and age structure of species associated with pelagic Sargassum when it occurs deeper in the water column?
- Additional research on the dependencies of pelagic Sargassum productivity on the marine species using it as habitat.
4. The Sargassum Sum Up
A summary that explores the reasons behind the increasing amounts of sargassum washing ashore the beaches of the Caribbean and what to do with it all.
5. The Economic Value of the Sargasso Sea
- Sumaila, U.R., Vats, V. and Swartz, W. 2013. Values from the Resources of the Sargasso Sea. Sargasso Sea Alliance Science Report Series #12.
- L. Pendleton, F Krowicki, P. Strosser, J. Hallett-Murdoch. July 2014. Assessing the Value of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in the Sargasso Sea, Working Paper EE 14-05
Resources of The Sargasso Sea
Convention on Biological Diversity
Sargasso Sea Submission of information to scientifically describe ecologically or biologically significant marine areas for formal recognition under the CBD
The health of the Sargasso Sea provides a foundation for economic activities outside of the area. Species of economic interest, such as eel, billfish, whales and turtles rely on the Sargasso Sea for spawning, maturation, feeding and critical routes for migration. This infographic was retrieved from The World Wildlife Fund.
Protecting The Sargasso Sea
Lee, J. “New International Pact Aims to Protect the Sargasso Sea—Why It’s Worth Saving.” National Geographic. 14 March 2014.
Sylvia Earle outlines the need for and the importance of the Hamilton Declaration, signed by five nations committing to the protection of the Sargasso Sea.
Hemphill, A. “Conservation on the High Seas – drift algae habitat as an open ocean cornerstone.” Parks (IUCN) Vol. 15 (3). 2005.
This paper highlights the essential ecosystem benefits of the Sargasso Sea, while also recognizing the difficulty in its protection, as it lies in the high seas, an area beyond national jurisdiction. It argues that the protection of the Sargasso Sea must not be overlooked, as it is of ecological importance to many species.
Non-Government Institutions Engaged In The Conservation of The Sargasso Sea
1. Bermuda Alliance for the Sargasso Sea (BASS)
Bermuda Zoological Society and its sister charity Atlantic Conservation Partnership are driving forces behind a union of environmental groups to help save the Sargasso Sea. The BASS is supporting efforts by the Bermuda government and its international partners to establish the Sargasso Sea as a high-seas protected area through research, education and community awareness.
- BASS Sargasso Sea Brochure
- A very helpful guide to the history of the Sargasso Sea, its importance and the need to protect it.
4. The Sargasso Sea Alliance
SSA is the precursor to the Sargasso Sea Commission, and in fact, spent three years striving for the passage of the Hamilton Declaration, including the provision of diverse scholarly studies and other materials about the Sargasso Sea.