Sargassum: Floating Nurseries

A clump of sargassum floats in the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Seabird McKeon

A clump of sargassum floats in the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Seabird McKeon

Sargassum seaweed is often found floating freely in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Take a closer look and you will find a community of organisms thriving around these floating islands. Unfortunately, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill threatened these open-ocean habitats and the animals that depend on them. To assess how pelagic Sargassum was impacted by the oil spill, researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) set out in the fall of 2010 to collect samples.

Classroom Activity: Habitat Balance
Sargassum is a floating brown algae that is common to the northern Gulf of Mexico. They provide critical habitat for many marine species and are therefore critical to the food web. In this activity, students will learn about its importance and how it was affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

LINK – Sargassum: Floating Nurseries

Sargassum_Floating Nurseries – PDF 1.1MB