Sargasso Sea

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The Sargasso Sea is a colossal subtropical mass of water that slowly turns clockwise in response to movement of the oceanic currents surrounding it. Within this North Atlantic gyre, the free-floating brown algae (Sargassum spp.) aggregates and grows in large floating mats fostering high biological diversity.

Two species have become holopelagic and reproduce vegetatively without attaching to the seafloor. The algae is known to sink and contribute to benthic ecosystems as well. It is also dispersed by wind, waves and currents to other areas where it supports populations of sea life wherever it is found. Sargassum hosts life at the surface for birds, in the water column for sea animals and on the sea floor as well. Its aggregation within the Sargasso Sea is essential to many known, as well as uncounted species.

Several have life-history patterns and ecology adapted to habitats unique to the floating Sargassum mats including the endemic species of pipefish, snail, angler fish, shrimp and crab. In addition, the Sargasso Sea provides important shelter, nurseries, spawning areas and feeding grounds for many pelagic species of marine turtles, birds, fish and eels. For example, species of eels from European and North American rivers migrate there as part of their life cycle before returning to the rivers where they were born to spawn.

Although a portion of the Sargasso Sea is always within Bermuda's jurisdiction, most of it lies in the international high seas.

Learn more about the broader region: North West Atlantic