Floating on its surface are large mats of unique seaweed known as Sargassum [pictured], which support a unique variety of marine life. The seaweed — which washes ashore here during winter storms — plays a crucial role in the Atlantic eco-system.
Scientists have documented that eel species from European and North American rivers migrate here to spawn. Their young then make their way back to live in these rivers.
The Sargasso Sea also plays an important role in the life cycle of the porbeagle shark, which is considered “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
Recent research has found that the Sargasso Sea serves as critical birthing grounds for the shark species. Given this highly productive ecosystem, scientists, Bermudians and others are concerned about protecting this area from emerging threats, such as proposals to harvest Sargassum for biofuel.
Currently the international Pew Environment Group lobbying for a marine national park to be established off Bermuda which would protect the Sargasso Sea from commercial exploitation.
Local and international conservationists, teaming with the Bermuda Government, have joined the Pew initiative in an effort to have the Sargasso Sea protected by law.
Last year the Atlantic Conservation Partnership [ACP] — formerly Friends of the Bermuda Aquarium — commissioned a short film from Look Bermuda aimed at raising awareness about Bermuda’s role in the international campaign to preserve the Sargasso Sea.
Last May the film was screened at “Project Ocean Talks” sponsored by London retailer Selfridges and attended by international conservationists, legislators and government representatives, including Bermuda’s Director of Environmental Protection Dr. Fred Ming, who spoke at the event.
The six-minute short describes the eco-rich area in the middle of the North Atlantic west of Bermuda.
A longer film on Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea is currently being completed for use in the island’s schools.
Th ACP was launched in 1993 as a US public charity that permits tax deductible contributions for US donors consistent with Internal Revenue Service regulations.
The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo [BAMZ] was established in 1926 by the Bermuda Government and has become a leader in environmental conservation, education and research through the efforts of its two support agencies, the local charity Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS] and the ACP.
- Video courtesy of Look Bermuda.
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