Whilst an over abundance of Sargassum reaching the coastline can be seen as a nuisance and even a problem, its importance as a nursery in the open ocean can not be understated.
Beyond the numerous unique species that make it their home, including Crabs, Shrimp, Nudibranchs and the diminutive yet almighty Sargasso Fish, many larger pelagic species rely on it to carry their eggs and/or protect their young including Flying Fish and Mahi-mahi a juvenile of which can be seen here:
The fauna that the mattes contain then also serves as a very important source of food for these and other pelagic species.
Jean-Pierre Rouja | Nonsuch Expeditions Team Leader, Photographer & Sargasso Sea Commission Ambassador:
“The waves of Sargassum that reached Bermuda in April were full of this fauna early in their life-cycles as documented in this series of photos.
The photo above has a gravid Sargassum Swimming Crab (of which there were numerous in those collection efforts led by Chris Flook) holding her eggs, along with strands of Flying Fish eggs that had been wrapped around the Sargasso weed (Sargassum natans) and were just about to hatch.
In this next photo a juvenile Sargassum Fish (Histrio histrio) can also be seen which whilst I was shooting was ingesting the flying fish as soon as they hatched.
At this time of year we routinely find very small Sargassum fish, often at a rate of 1 per clump of weed, however rarely do we find more than 1 per clump as invariably they will eat each other until only 1 is left…”