On a visit to Martinique and Guadeloupe since Thursday, the president has designated the mass occurrence of these algae brown toxic as one of the “direct consequences of global warming”.

The phenomenon is especially important this year. This Thursday, a group guadeloupean has filed a complaint in Paris for endangerment. He denounces the “deficiencies glaring,” State “facing the invasion of the coasts of the west indies” by the sargasso sea.

last June, several ministers had already visited the site to see the damage of this pollution plant to serious economic consequences. And to announce an action plan of 10 million euros over two years, whose objective was to reduce the time of pick-up to 48 hours after the stranding.

A massive apparition

The sargasso sea to invade the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. These territories ultramarins French being, like the rest of the west Indies, the massive build-up of brown algae toxic. A pollution plant marine with severe consequences for the tourist economy, the fishing companies or the shipping companies.

This problem began in 2011, but has “never been as important as this year,” explained then Annick Girardin. The minister of overseas and Nicolas Hulot, his colleague then at the department of ecological Transition, were specially made on-site to announce and detail the measures taken by the State.

in the Face of this crisis of the sargasso sea, the ministers had realized the extent surprising damage over miles of shoreline. In early may, the brown algae have stormed number of the input ports, blocking the propellers of boats and cutting partially of the world these islands, as well as those of La Désirade, Marie-Galante or les Saintes. The two sent to the metropolis had announced a plan of 10 million euros to combat this phenomenon, which also involves French Guiana and the islands of the North.

The port of Saint Felix, Gosier, here photographed in April 2018.


The inhabitants are particularly worried about the toxicity of the algae, including degradation issues such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, a gas with a strong smell, causing headaches, nausea and vomiting. Marine animals also suffer just as even the engines of the boats damaged on contact.

Example satellite monitoring, here from 4 to 10 June 2018, the evolution of the sargasso.

i-Sea / DEAL Guadeloupe

The regional Agency of health (ARS) advises the distance for pregnant women, babies, elderly, asthmatics, etc., beyond the threshold of a concentration of 5 ppm, only “professionals to the means of measurement with alarms” are allowed to get close to clumps of sargassum. As a precaution, the commune of Petit-Bourg was then closed its schools, 2,000 students, and eight schools involved. Some beaches remain closed to bathing.

The accumulation of algae sargasso sea views from the beaches of Gosier in April 2018.


These algae also foul-smelling, drifting in the form of rafts, from new sites of proliferation that have not yet been located with certainty. “Analysis of satellite images has shown the existence of a new accumulation zone of the sargasso sea located in the north of Brazil in the central Atlantic ocean”, said the French government as early as 2015. The problem extends also to the region as a whole : Cancun, Mexico, on the other side of the Caribbean, suffers the same problem on its white sand beaches lined with hotels and tourists.

Example of sargasso pullulan on the beach Gaviota Azul, in Cancun, in July 2015.

REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Garcia

The French plan, announced in June, plans 22 new sensors to monitor the stranding and the fumes, in order to establish a daily bulletin. Their funding must allow for the pick-ups “48 hours after the stranding, prior to the decomposition. The techniques are multiplying just on the test bench : a mission of senator guadeloupean Dominique Theophilus was to make the neighbouring islands of the Caribbean in search of innovative solutions to collection and recovery.

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A study of the Chamber of Commerce and industry of the islands of Guadeloupe is estimated that this crisis sargasso accounted for the only first quarter 2018 to approximately 4.5 million euros of losses for the local businesses. The environment Agency and energy management (Ademe), for his part, had estimated three years ago the “world of algae” to 60 000 tonnes per year just for the Guadeloupe… Evidence that the lack of solutions was heavy at this time.