If there is one person who is concerned about the Sargassum seaweed taking over the island’s beaches, and about the potential impact it could have on the island’s tourism, it is Arthur Collymore.
So concerned is the self-employed 54-year-old, that almost every day, instead of focusing on pushing his small business which has taken a downturn because of the economic climate, he is to be seen cleaning up the unsightly algae, particularly on the South Coast.
Almost daily, from morning till evening, he may be found at the beach solely raking up the seaweed and filling buckets, which he dumps.
But Collymore did tell Barbados TODAY that last weekend he had been joined on the Silver Sands, Christ Church beach by members of the Barbados Defence Force, Cadet Corps and Brownies from the Christ Church Girls’ School, among other volunteers.
The majority of the times, it is just him, he says, and he is “determined to do something” about the seaweed.
Collymore started in 2011 when the free-floating algae, originating in the Sargasso Sea, came to the shores of Barbados. It was on the same Silver Sands Beach he spent three months cleaning up.
“It was bad then; but, at times, it looks as though it is worse now. And, it came in for a longer period this time around. This is worse than 2011.
“This thing is bad. On Saturday, me and the other teams had done a thorough clean-up of Silver Sands, but by yesterday it was the same way it was the day before,” the self-employed man said.
Collymore, who sees his work as carrying out a national duty, says he could do with some more help. Apart from the assistance he got last weekend, it is not often he has anyone contributing to his effort.
And, he thinks employees of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) should be doing much more. He however noted that this morning NCC workers came to the beach and carried away part of a huge pile he had gathered.
“Before I came here, I was down Miami Beach two weeks ago when it was bad, and they were not helping. This is what they are being paid for; I am not getting paid. I can’t do it alone,” Collymore remarked.
Noting Barbados was still a popular tourist destination, Collymore said he believed a greater effort should be coming from Government and stakeholders of the industry to clean up the seaweed.
“When I was cleaning Miami Beach, there were times when tourists and also locals came there; and they turned back.
“When you come to this country and you pay money, you don’t want to be seeing the beaches with all this seaweed, and have this kind of experience. It is unsightly and we have to do something about it,” Collymore said.
The Sargassum seaweed is also affecting other beaches on the island, particularly on the North Coast and East Coast.