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Gulfweeds
Sargassum spp.

Description:
Species of Sargassum can be difficult to identify because of the variability in form. Fortunately, the plants can be recognized as belonging to the genus on the basis of some consistent characteristics. The genus is characterized by a conspicuous stem like axis with distinct foliar blades. These blades are long, oval-shaped, and may have smooth or striated edges. In addition, small berry-like air bladders occur in abundance. Color is fairly consistent as well, the plants varying from yellow-brown to a deep rich chocolate color.

Habitat:
Grow in most environments, including reefs.

Distribution:
South Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean.

Remarks:
At Curacao, dense Sargassum beds, consisting of Sargassum platycarpum and Sargassum polyceratium cover the submarine platform along the wave-exposed northeast coast. Locations along the southwest coast often harbor dense populations of S. polyceratium that do not extend below depths of a few meters (Ruyter van Steveninck, 1987).

S. fluitans and S. natans form dense, relatively thick, floating mats that can cover huge areas of the sea surface.

Gulfweeds (Sargassum spp.)