The seaweed saga

Seaweed and jellyfish are found at all Southern New England beaches. Their appearance together and increase in numbers is no coincidence.

Algae, commonly referred to as seaweed, are an important part of the coastal ecosystem, providing food and habitat for a multitude of coastal organisms.

Seaweed is edible to humans, too, and useful in a multitude of ways. But sometimes, there can be too much of a good thing and your day at the beach involves detangling from the algae.

Sometimes these blooms get trapped in coves type inlets, relying on a change in the water currents and the dynamics of the beach to wash it out to sea.

Much like plants on land, seaweed has seasons of blooming in the spring. And just like land plants, they respond to fertilizer, specifically nitrogen. Nitrogen enters the ocean primarily from coastal land use of fertilizer and wastewater treatment.

More algae means more food available to ocean animals. Bottom line, more food available means more jellyfish. As their numbers grow, it becomes more important than ever to follow coastal marine ecologist Dr. Christine Ramsay’s tip for dealing with jellies.

“A safe bet is just don’t touch it unless you absolutely know what you’re doing,” explained Ramsay.

Good advice for a sting-free trip to the beach.

Categories: News, Scientifically Speaking