ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Sargassum seaweed provides a habitat for many marine animals (fish, turtle, shrimp, crab), while excessive Sargassum landing on beaches represents a nuisance.
Recently, a Sargassum Watch System (SaWS) has been established to produce customized MODIS and VIIRS imagery in near real-time to detect and track large rafts of Sargassum and other seaweeds.
Photo By: Chuanmin Hu
NOAA Fisheries and partners have been using SaWS to identify Sargassum habitat in near real-time, which is critical to sea turtle conservation and research. During storm events when juvenile turtles are washed ashore, responders need to collect and hold them in a central facility until they are released in Sargassum habitat (otherwise they would have little chance of survival). During Hurricane Irma, over 2,500 hatchlings were washed ashore and later placed on Sargassum mats.