Creature Feature, Sargassum Weed

Sargassum is a brown algae that forms vast floating mats all over the world’s oceans. When sargassum is found floating in large patches offshore, it often holds an entire ecosystem that includes everything from large concentrations of microscopic plankton to seahorses, baitfish, and larger predatory fish. Finding a large, untouched patch of these algae offshore is the fishing equivalent to hitting a grand slam in baseball. These patches have been known to produce great numbers of game fish, especially the highly sought after dolphin, or mahi mahi.

If you happen to be lucky enough to find a large area of weeds or other floating debris, you should always take a close look and investigate them. To do this you will need a fine-mesh hand net with an opening about the diameter of a 5 gallon bucket opening. A longer handle gives you an advantage when trying to reach patches of sargassum weed that gets pushed away. If you don’t have a net, you can always reach down with your hand, grab a good handful and shake the sargassum over a light colored surface (the white lids of coolers work perfectly!). As you shake the algae, you’ll notice very small pieces falling from the clumps. These small pieces are often tiny creatures. Be very careful when handling the creatures so you do not injure them and be sure to return them safely to the water after you’re finished observing them.   



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