Barbados’ most unwanted visitor has returned to its shores.
The dreaded Sargassum seaweed is back.
Since 2015 an influx of the unwelcome brown micro-algae has proven to be a major headache for the tourism industry.
The seaweed, which invaded a number of beaches in Barbados, caused an awful stench, as the vegetable matter rotted after washing up on shore.
However, locals and visitors alike got a welcomed break when the seaweed disappeared in 2016 and beaches returned to their customary white sandy appearance only to be plastered again last year.
Over the past two weeks, the unwanted marine visitor has raised its ugly head once again and is highly visible on parts of the north, south and east coasts of the island.
One area, which is heavily impacted is River Bay, St Lucy.
When Barbados TODAY visited the area this afternoon, resident Luceen Griffith said ever since the seaweed returned to the beach near her home, she has been having respiratory issues.
“Honestly, the Sargassum seaweed affects me a lot, from the time it came at first I had problems. When it is here I can’t breathe, my eyes get really red and I am extremely worried because I am asthmatic. Last time it came I had to go to the doctor and this time I had to go again,” she said.
“It normally affects me very bad at night and I have to leave home sometimes because I can’t stay and let it make me sick. I find myself sometimes coughing really bad,” she said, adding that “the lady next door to me she is asthmatic as well and she has the same issues as I do.
“Since it back nobody came and clean it. When the wind blows some of the sea comes all in the road and into my house. It needs cleaning. [The stench] is not all over that bad, but especially in the gullies, that is where the stench is,” she said.
Another resident, Sherida Small, recalled that when the seaweed first started plastering the island, there was a pungent odour almost every day. However, she said it did not really have a huge impact on her anymore.
“Right now the seaweed doesn’t really affect me like how it use to before. I live a little further in from the sea so it won’t bother me as much. Before it used to be really bad and I could smell the scent really bad, but now it doesn’t affect me.” Small said.
When contacted General Manager of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) Keith Neblett assured Barbados TODAY the issue was being dealt with.
“We recognize that the seaweed is back indeed. What I can tell you is that we are monitoring it. Our eyes are on it. In terms of the south coast, there are small quantities around Enterprise and Oistins which we are dealing with, but most of it is on the eastern part of the island this time.
“It is not the easiest thing in terms of removing, but we have cleared quite a bit down Barclays Park. We know quite a bit is down St Lucy, especially along River Bay, so what we are hoping to do is by this weekend, get some equipment and move it.
“We understand that it will start to get a stench but we are on it. It came back in overnight but we are going to move it for sure,” he added.