Apr 03 2023 | Posted by WUN

Stinky seaweed blooms: Turning an ecological risk into an opportunity


Photo by Thor Tryggvason on Unsplash

The University of Southampton published this story on the SARCAP project. The Southampton-led research project –funded through the WUN Research Development Fund (2021 round) – has found sustainable uses for sargassum seaweed. The project draws on a range of expertise across the WUN network with researchers from the University of York, the University of Southampton, and the University of Ghana, and WUN+ partners from the University of the West Indies in Barbados and Jamaica.

Sargassum is a brown seaweed (macroalgae) that is wreaking seasonal havoc on coastlines across the Tropical Atlantic. Millions of tonnes of sargassum – and increasing annually – are washing up on beaches from Mexico to Africa, threatening fishing, tourism, and ecosystems, including turtles who cannot get onto the beaches to lay their eggs.

As Atlantic beaches brace for their annual onslaught of a potent-smelling seaweed, the research consortium is sharing their research into how communities affected can make use of this putrid problem – by turning it into a compost.

The team has also developed an early warning system so affected communities can prepare.

More information can be found on the project website.