Origin of Sargassum

Sargassum is abundantly found in seas/oceans. More than 300 species of Sargassum are currently found around the world. The species called macroalga S. muticum (Yendo) Fensholt is covering the waste area around the ocean world. It is named as the most aggressive marine invader. Initially, Sargassum algae originated and spread over the world from South East Asia. In the 1940s S. muticum was introduced into the Pacific Northwest region along with Japanese oysters. Now, it’s widespread around the Atlantic coasts from Portugal to Norway. 

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Sargassum Seaweed 

The Sargassum weed is also known as gulfweed or sea holly, Around 150 species of brown algae are generally attached to the rocks along the coasts. While other species remain as free-floating algae in the open sea. The large quantities of floating sargassum in the tourist beaches create negative impacts but not create any health risks.

The floating rafts of sargassum are widespread over the ocean. It usually looks like a ·         sargasso island, which is not attached to the floor. The sargassum looks like branched leafy appendages and round berry-like structures provide oxygen to the aquatic features. The Pneumatocysts are buoyant and are filled with oxygen and help them to float on the surface of the water. The floating seaweeds will grow and provide feed for microbes and allow the fishes/turtles / marine birds/crabs and other species to breed in it. This helps to save the lives of marine life.  Some fishes like sargassum, mahi mahi, jacks spend their whole lives within this sargasso island. When the sargassum loses its buoyancy, it sinks and reaches the seafloor. It starts decomposing and provides carbon to the fishes and other species in the deep sea. Hence, it plays a vital role in the deep-sea food chain. 

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How Does the Sargassum Seaweed Develop? 

As the Sargassum are brown-green algae, they enable photosynthesis through sunlight and convert light energy into chemical energy. which helps in the formation of glucose.  These seaweed’s glucose will stay as the building block for its carbohydrates.  Through this energy source, the seaweed will successfully grow around the habitat. During the photosynthesis process, the algae will absorb carbon dioxide and other nutrients in the form of nitrogen from the water and release oxygen into the atmosphere and dissolve the oxygen. This will enhance the lives of marine habitats. The photosynthesis will also take place in the sargassum kelp, when the algae are kept for dehydration. 

During the absence of sunlight, the seaweeds will stop photosynthesis and start intaking oxygen and burn glucose. The seaweeds will utilize the sunlight effectively for the photosynthesis process while compared to the other terrestrial plants. 

Usually, the red macroalgae will grow in the deeper seas. The brown algae are found in the middle level to absorb minimum sunlight. While, the green algae are found floating at sea level for maximizing the utilization of sunlight. They will start synthesizing their own food at their level with the available substrate, nutritional elements, temperature and sunlight. The sunlight penetration into the underwater will stay at 0.0005% which is sufficient for the red algae to grow up to 268 meters. 

Unlike other terrestrial plants, they need no roots, stems, and real leaves for processing the food.  The algae directly interact with the surface of the seaweeds by diffusion and active transport. Each cell will take its own responsibility to synthesize its food and share its nutrition

All Sargassum will utilize the nitrogen as the major weed growth under the water. It is particular for the green algae development. The summer or warm days will favour boosting the growth of algae. 

The Sargassum algae and other varieties of algae play vital roles in the global ecosystem. A study says that about 90% of atmospheric oxygen is synthesized by the seaweeds and it is 2-14 times more than that of terrestrial plants and trees and grasses.  Researchers found that the best species of brown algae can develop half a meter in a day. Also, it will develop in centimeters within an hour. 

Applications of Sargassum

  1. All the dried seaweeds will contain phenol levels up to 20%. The physodes of Phaeophyta have tannin substances with phenolic character, which are widely available in marine algea. 

  2. The sea weeds are also identified as a rich source of bioactive compounds. The extracts exhibit antimicrobial properties against pathogenic microorganisms.

  3. Pharmaceutical companies, physiologists and chemists have started paying attention to marine organisms, particularly on Sargassum weeds for screening bioactive substances. 

  4. The phenolic compounds and other secondary metabolites are found at a high level in the marine brown algae, namely phlorotannins. 

  5. The components extracted from sargassum kelp are used for the production of food proteins and particularly for myofibrillar proteins. 

  6. The expert researchers are extracting the gel enhancer from the Sargassum 2021 (S. tenerrimum). These compounds are made of phenolic substances.

  7. The sea algae are the richest source of protein than that of the yolk of eggs. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Sargassum Seaweed Good For?

Ans: The floating sargassum algae are brown in colour, which is the richest source of carotenoids, cellulose, protein, and aspartic and glutamic acids. They are a rich source of phenol. Furthermore, the polysaccharides found in sargassum kelp helps to control blood sugar and blood pressure. Sargassum has high antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Sargassum provides residents and food for marine habitats like fishes, crabs, turtles birds, shrimps and other organisms. 

2. Is it Safe to Swim in Sargassum?

Ans: When encountering the sargassum near the beach it is important to find its state. If it is alive, it is not much hazardous to human beings. When it reaches land and dies, it begins to release hydrogen sulfide gas. It may create irritation on interacting with human skin.  The hydrogen sulfide gas in the water will create a smell of rotten eggs. Breathing of such toxic gases may create respiratory issues. The patients will experience complications as shortness of breath, dizziness, vertigo, headache and may even experience serious disorders.