Thursday, 12 October 2017 Near real-time Sargassum Watch System helps turtle rehabilitation

Near real-time Sargassum Watch System helps turtle rehabilitation

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.

Students collecting sargassum seaweed

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.