Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean Sea - Outlook Bulletin, February 2019

In January 2018, unusually high amount of Sargassum was caught in satellite imagery in both the Caribbean and the central West Atlantic. While the former could only be peered by January 2015, the latter represented a historical record. Based on these observations and based on the connectivity between the two regions, in early February 2018 we generated and distributed our first 1-page Sargassum outlook bulletin for the Caribbean Sea, and predicted that 2018 would be a major bloom year for the Caribbean.

While the monthly bulletins can be found at the bottom of this page, the month of Feb 2019 showed a total Sargassum coverage of 356 km2 as compared with a historical mean of 33 km2 between 2011 and 2017, for the area bounded by 8-23°N and 89-58°W. Although the bloom intensity remained relatively low in February, the bloom extent in 2019 is still significantly higher than most of the years during 2011-2018 for the Caribbean and the central West Atlantic. The reasons behind this record-high bloom, however, are yet to be determined.