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HPL graduate student, Maureen Brooks ' article on Sargassum (floating seaweed) has been chosen by the pre-eminent journal, Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS ), to be the featured article in its July 2018 issue. This is an incredible honor for a graduate student, and Horn Point Laboratory commends Maureen’s scholarship and hard work.
Maureen has summarized her paper for a non-scientific audience:
Floating seaweed called Sargassum drifts on ocean currents in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. It brings some structure to the open waters, which attracts animals like fish, crabs, and young sea turtles. Previous computer models of Sargassum treated it like a piece of driftwood at the mercy of ocean currents. This new study by Brooks and co-authors treats Sargassum like the living plant it is, including growth, reproduction, and death. They showed that you need to include both ocean physics and seaweed biology to understand the patterns of Sargassum we observe. They also found two regions, the Gulf of Mexico, and an area of the Atlantic near the mouth of the Amazon River, that influence the spread of Sargassum across the Atlantic. These new discoveries are important to researchers who are working hard to understand why so much more Sargassum seems to be washing up on beaches in the past few years.
What sweetest macroalgae floats upon
oligotrophic waves in central gyre
that hosts such plankton, turtles, and fish spawn
who cycle nutrients as they respire
Yet golden seaweed also stands as foe,
a sight that coastal dwellers might abhor
For sweet Sargassum causes ample woe
When thalli cast themselves upon the shore
Now I convert this algae into bytes
To drift computer currents far from sea
Lagrangian pathways matched with satellites
show Western Gulf and tropics are the key
I’ll rush to share this news, the hour is late
Write! Write! and publish all, then graduate
Maureen T. Brooks
UMCES Horn Point Laboratory