Ohana Sailing Adventure

Pirates to the Left, Tropical Storm to the Right, and Gunshots Behind (Part III)

And last but not least…

14) Study flying fish

 

Any sailor will tell you that it’s common to find flying fish on your deck in the morning – one morning we discovered three of them, and one of them even left an imprint on our stainless. The girls had a great time studying them.

 

15) Dolphins!

 

 

We were surprised that we didn’t see more dolphins along our journey, but this pod came and played with us for a little while as we approached the Caribbean Sea.

 

16) Sargassum

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Sargassum, the seaweed that gives the Sargasso Sea its name, came alongside our boat about a day before we made landfall.

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The “berries” are pneumatocysts – air-filled bladders that provide buoyancy.

The Sargasso Sea is the only sea in the world that has no land boundaries, only bordered by four ocean currents – the North Atlantic Current to the north, the Gulf Stream to the west, the North Atlantic Equatorial Current to the south, and the Canary Current to the east. The four currents form a clockwise-turning, dynamic boundary for the Sargasso Sea.

 

The seaweed itself is fascinating – it is freely floating, reproduces vegetatively on the surface, and never grows beneath the surface of the water, unlike other seaweed that start life and reproduce on the ocean floor. The seaweed gives protection for a lot of sea creatures, from turtle nurseries to Sargassum fish that live their entire life in this habitat; it has been designated an Essential Fish Habitat by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association).

We were a little surprised to have the seaweed aside our boat as we didn’t think we were that close to the borders of the Sargasso Sea at the time. But apparently there have been increases in Sargassum in the Caribbean and Mexico since 2011. Some of this increase is thought to be due to a new band of Sargassum forming between Brazil and west Africa, although scientists don’t yet have adequate information as to why. And although the seaweed provides an important habitat in the Sargasso Sea, when it washes ashore in huge numbers, it has unfortunately started to cause some problems with sea life and beaches. But we were quite happy to have the opportunity to examine it in detail!

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