Photos: Bermuda’s ‘Golden Rainforest’

February 20, 2012

Christopher Columbus discovered the Sargasso Sea off Bermuda as well as the Bahamas during his inaugural voyage to the New World.

In September, 1492, as Columbus sailed near Bermuda, his three ships came across an area of the Atlantic Ocean carpeted with golden plants.

The Italian explorer described them in his logbook: “At sunrise we saw so much weed that the sea seemed to be a solid mat, coming from the west.”

The weed Columbus saw was Sargassum — large mats of seaweed floating on the water’s surface which support diverse and unique marine life.

This anecdote from the opening chapter of Europe’s Age of Discovery was included in a major on-line feature entitled “Bermuda’s Golden Rainforest of the Sea” posted at the Pew Environment Group’s website on Tuesday [Feb.13].

The Philadelphia-based organisation is currently lobbying for a marine national park to be established off Bermuda which would protect the Sargasso Sea from commercial exploitation.

The international conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, the organisation’s mission is to conserve the natural environment and protect the rich array of life it supports.

“Nearly the size of the continental US, the Sargasso Sea was named after Sargassum,” said the feature.” Some of the marine species relying on this habitat have evolved unique shapes and color patterns that camouflage them among the plants. The Sargasso Sea is set off from the surrounding Atlantic by four ocean currents — some of the strongest in the world.

“Bermuda’s ocean environment depends on Sargassum and marine life has adapted to this unique ocean habitat. The plant creates a nutrient-rich seaweed forest that hosts communities of fish, shrimp, crabs, worms, and snails.

“Many species of marine life, including juvenile sea turtles, take shelter in Sargassum, which serves as a nursery and feeding area.”

The Pew Environment Centre report was accompanied by this photo gallery of the marine life which thrives in the Sargasso Sea. It features the work of a number of Bermudian conservationists and photographers.

Slideshow below courtesy of the Pew Environment Group, featuring images by photographers including Chris Burville and Chris Flook:

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Category: All, Environment, Photos

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  1. Mystery Of 1902 Bermuda ‘Sea Serpent’ | | February 26, 2013
  1. FREDDY G says:


  2. Pastor Syl says:

    Beautiful pix. I have often wondered what we do with the sargassum that lands on our shores. I note that it helps to bind sand and prevent erosion but most Bermudians seem to think of it only as an eyesore and make requests for Government to remove it.
    I remember that my mom used to gather it in crocus bags for her garden. I think maybe its time for me to adopt that habit.

  3. Yup says:

    It was a bumper crop of Sargassum this year. But the more the better. The Sargassum is an indicator of the health of our surrounding ocean.