Tag Archives: sargassum

Blacktip Island Snack Mishap Leads To Sargassum Solution

A fortunate accident by an inebriated Blacktip Island divemaster has revealed a possible solution to the Caribbean’s sargassum seaweed inundation. (photo courtesy of Filo gèn)

A pre-dinner snack mishap Monday on a Blacktip Island beach inadvertently revealed a method of destroying the masses of sargassum seaweed choking beaches on the small Caribbean island and throughout the Caribbean.

“I was walking along the beach behind Sandy Bottoms’, a little tipsy after happy hour, munching a double-spicy chicken wing and sipping a margarita, when I stumbled,” Gage Hoase said. “I dropped my wing, and when I tried to catch it, I ended up spilling my drink over it. There was a puff of smoke, then I saw a bare patch in the sargassum and the air smelled like rose petals.

“I went back to the bar for more wings and maragaritas to try it again,” Hoase said. “Turns out hot wings and margaritas burn up sargassum. All that’s left is some black dust, and the wind blows that away. For once, it was good alcohol was involved.”

Local scientists were quick to replicate the phenomenon.

“We went out with a wide array of wing flavors and mixed drinks, and Gage’s claims were highly inaccurate,” Sargassum Containment Unit director Fanny Basslet said. “Hot wings and margaritas don’t obliterate sargassum. It’s the hotter-that-hot hot sauce and tequila, mixed at a 1-5 ratio, that does it. And how.

“Near as we can tell, the sauce-tequila combination forms a complex amino acid chain that interacts with the sulphur and arsenic in the sargassum and desiccates it instantaneously. The chemical reaction does leave an odor reminiscent of wild roses. We’re still researching the exact reactions involved and how to augment them to their full advantage.”

Island residents, meanwhile, have embraced the solution.

“First thing I did was run to the store for hot sauce and tequila,” Larry Blenny said. “Mixed ‘em in a bug-spray sprayer and cleared the beach out back of my house in 15 minutes. Haven’t been about to sit out there with an onshore wind for years. This’s a Godsend.

“The cheap, white, skull-cracker tequila works best,” Blenny said. “So does the low-end hot sauce that tastes like salt and vinegar. Smokes a bit when it comes out the nozzle, but, man, it’s king hell on that nasty-ass sargassum. And leaves the house smelling like a spring day.”

Island merchants said the unexpected find has caused supply-chain issues.

“I can’t keep hot sauce on the shelf,” Peachy Bottoms of Peachy Bottoms General and Liquor store said. “Same with tequila, good quality or bad. I’m ordering so much my suppliers can’t keep up, and folks are lining up outside the store screaming for more. The situation’s getting ugly.”

Island officials have stepped up to alleviate the shortages.

“We’re using our sources to buy the ingredients in bulk and ship them in on pallets,” Public works head Stoney MacAdam said. “Bug- and weed-sprayers, too. We’re gonna recruit volunteer coast-clearers to blast assigned sections of beach. Then, once the onshore problem’s under control, we’ll move offshore and blast the stuff before it can make landfall.”

“Sure, there may be disastrous secondary and tertiary consequences down the line that could destroy the environment,” MacAdam said. “But who cares, so long as the beaches are clear and that stench is gone?”

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Sargassum Festival Kicks Off Blacktip Island’s Summer Season

sargassum fest

The continued influx of sargassum choking Blacktip Island’s beaches will be the focus of Sunday’s inaugural Stink Off festival at Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort, celebrating the rotting seaweed. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/BTT staff)

Blacktip Island will mark the beginning of summer this Sunday with its first-ever Stink Off Sargassum Festival, a lemons-to-lemonade approach to the waves of decomposing sea algae flooding the small Caribbean island’s beaches and coastal waters, organizers said Thursday.

“Sargassum’s here to stay, so we’re making the best of it,” Stink Off committee chair Jay Valve said. “Sure, all the rotting seaweed piled on the beaches make it tough to get to the water, and the smell’ll about knock you out if you’re downwind, but rather than cut and run, we’re gonna celebrate it.

“We’ll have a sargassum sculpture contest, a sargassum cook-off, and sargassum fights for the kids,” Valve said. “There’ll also be a swim-in-sargassum race, a name-that-biting-fly contest and a sargassum-themed parade on the beach, where participants will dress as sargassum, or any creature that lives in or around it. It’ll truly be fun for the entire family.”

Many on the island welcomed the event’s positivity.

“It’s great folks are focusing on how to move forward despite this stinky nuisance,” Angela Fisher said. “I’m looking forward to the Most Unusual Use contest—with ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ divisions—the sargassum-based skin care products and the Stank Neutralizer event. It’s also great they’re providing complimentary cortisone showers and oxygen treatment for all participants.”

Others questioned the wisdom of celebrating the decomposing algae.

“Big picture, embracing a nuisance is a great way to raise peoples’ spirits, but there is a downside, health wise, in this case” public health director Dr. Azul Tang said. “Rotting sargassum releases hydrogen sulfide. That’s what gives it that rotten egg smell. But hydrogen sulfide is also highly toxic and can cause severe respiratory distress, or even death.

“The idea of frolicking in miles of this stuff, of physical exertion while breathing large concentrations of toxic gas, is medically irresponsible,” Tang said. “We can’t stop it, though, so we’ll have both our medical staff nearby, with lassoes, to rescue any participants who pass out.”

Community leaders, meanwhile, are poised to make the most of the event.

“You’ve got to seize opportunities like this,” de facto island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We’re losing tourism dollars now because of the sargassum. This idea of Jay’s’ll turn that around. We’re gonna market Blacktip as the sargassum capitol of the Caribbean.

“We aim to get folks coming to Blacktip because of the sargassum,” Cobia said. “We’ll have a sargassum museum, interactive sargassum tours and an underwater viewing chamber. We’re also doing t-shirts, caps and hoodies made from 100 percent repurposed Blacktip Island sargassum. And they won’t be exported, so folks’ll have to come here to get them. Couple of us are also working on ways to bottle the gas to export for riot control.”

Stink Off activities are scheduled to start at noon Sunday at Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort. The parade will start at 4 p.m. Respirators are recommended for all events.

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