Over the course of the last week at Lac Bay a sea of Sargassum has come in over the reef and invaded Lac Bay. The invasion is being described as a disaster by STINAPA, the environmental conservation organization that runs the national park and Marine Park on Bonaire. This is the largest sargassum invasion Bonaire has ever faced.
A massive clean-up is underway as well as a donation campaign by Stinapa to collect money for purchasing supplies related to the clean-up. The Sargassum is weed that has broken off from the sargassum weed floating in the enormous Sargasso Sea. Normally the sargassum seaweed is a beneficial weed that floats in the waters of the North Atlantic.
Other mass influxes of Sargassum have hit Bonaire in recent years but not of the severity of this one. Researchers say the algae blooms have exploded in extent and frequency lately, apparently causing the largest sargassum invasion Bonaire has ever seen. It’s difficult to know what the future holds. Sargassum invasions have been causing destruction on other Caribbean islands and also in the US since around 2014.
More research will be done to better understand the trends and patterns of this seaweed.
Update: Lac bay is back to it’s former beauty and splendor. There are tiny bits and pieces of Sargassum weed found here and there but to the point of not even being noticeable. See photos below from July 2018. The photo of the group clean up is taken in the same spot in March 2018 as the photo below with the palm tree. It is the little pathway where windsurfer’s normally take their gear out into Lac Bay from Jibe City to go windsurfing. In March it was completely blocked by the sargassum. Volunteers worked night and day to clear the sargassum and save reef animals. Lac Bay is now looking like it’s old amazing, crystal clear turquoise water self.