Since 2011, the Caribean has witnessed an annual upsurge in Sargassum Seaweed, a brown sea weed that lives in the open ocean. 2018 saw record amounts being washed up on beaches throughout the Caribbean and headlines such as “Masses of Seaweed Assault Caribbean Islands” have appeared in news publications. Some open water swimmers may read these articles and decide to change destination for their “swimcation”. The truth is that the Barbados Open Water Festival venue of Carlisle Bay is almost totally unaffected by the seaweed invasion that occurs annually (usually starting around Easter) for a varying period of time. The major effects of the sea weed in Barbados have been felt on the east coast (Photo: Second left, Bath Beach, East coast) and in recent months the south east and parts of the south coast.
Carlisle Bay sits on the south west of the island and sometimes a small amount of sea weed can be seen in the southern portion of the Bay. However the Bay remains magnificent, a tranquil bay with ideal conditions for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving (Top left: Recent photo of Carlisle Bay from the Boatyard Pier). The west coast of the island has also escaped this natural phenomena of the last few years and beaches remain pristine (Photo, bottom West Coast Beach, end of May 2018, Discovery Bay hotel).
Scientists and oceanographers are studying the factors which may be responsible for stimulating the large "bloom" of the weed in 2018 but no real answers have emerged. The increase in weed has posed problems for some sea life as well including sea turtles and the Barbados Sea Turtle Project has been working overtime recently to help free turtles that have become trapped in some areas along the East coast. Generally the sea weed clears by the end of summer, well ahead of the annual open water swim Festival. The 2018 Barbados Open Water Festival is scheduled for Nov 7-11.
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Kristina Evelyn - Barbadian. Enjoys promoting open water swimming in Barbados and meeting open water swimmers from all over the world.