The Atlantic Ocean is riddled with patches and strings of a golden-brown seaweed called Sargassum. This is an animal habitat for over 130 critters.
Copyright 2019 photo by Debbie Dunn
In July of 2018, I went on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Celebrity Equinox. It was a back-to-back cruise - my favorite form of cruising. That way, I only had to pay for my travel expenses once; however, I got to experience a much longer-than-normal cruise.
During the first cruise (July 7 to 14, 2018), we went to the Eastern Caribbean. The ports included St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and San Juan. Due to a passenger having a heart-related medical emergency, we did not end up going to San Juan, after all. Please note that due to the captain's due diligence, this woman's life ended up being saved.
Since the day we were due to visit San Juan did not happen, I had additional time sitting on my balcony gazing out at the beautiful ocean waters. On that day and all the other "at sea" days, I noticed something I had never before seen on my past cruises that numbered 25 plus. Stretching across the ocean was this golden-brown seaweed.
This seaweed clumped in some places. In other places, there was a long string of small patches. In other places, there appeared to be a small island made up of this stuff.
I remember thinking, "I don't recall ever seeing anything like this." Of course, in the past, I was not known for being the most observant person in the world. Later on, when I reviewed my past videos and photos taken of the ocean, not one picture included this strange plant.
So what was it? Why was it here? I found myself utterly fascinated with this new, to my eyes, feature. I definitely wanted to know more.
The second week, July 14 to 21, 2018, we went to the Western Caribbean. The ports included Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. I took many more photos and videos of this strange plant.
One day, during that second week, I visited the Shore Excursion desk. After showing off my many pictures of this plant, I asked, "Could you please tell me the name of this plant and anything you know about it?"
The female attendant Googled the plant and even printed off a description sheet. At long last, the mystery was solved. The plant was called "Sargassum."
When I read through the description on the print-out, I was absolutely mesmerized. The biggest phrase that stood out to me the most was learning that "Sargassum is an animal habitat for over 130 critters."
I was determined that when I returned to my home, and again had access to the internet, I intended to research this plant. As a professional storyteller and a children's book writer, I had the feeling that something really wonderful could result.