Sargassum is a brown to olive green colored algae which belongs to the brown algae family. These species grow typically on the live rock. They have different types of tissues such as stripes, holdfast, fronds or fruiting bodies, whereas some of the species are known to have gas-filled bladders. These species may grow up to a size of several meters. They have leaves which may be small, broad or narrow. The air bladder of the sargassum helps help the seaweed to stay afloat and thus can be closer to sunlight. Many of these species have robust and flexible body with a rough sticky texture which helps them to withstand against strong water currents. These species provide food and shelter to many of the sea animals.
Some of the most interesting facts about these species are as follows
Sargassums are the species which are found in near-shore. They are the inhabitants of tropical areas and can be found throughout the world. These plants grow and attach themselves to rocks, coral or shells in the rocky or pebble areas. Sometimes they can be seen floating on the water.
Sargassum has a life-span of about 3-4 years. This species can reproduce both through floating fragments and sexually. The fertilization generally takes place on the surfaces of the reproductive bodies and in this process thousands of "germlings" are released. These resolve rapidly, generally near the parent alga. After the process of fertilization, the zygotes continue to grow on the parent for a number of days before dropping to ocean floor. They have enveloping mucilage and their multi-cellular form which protects them from environmental stress. They have an advantage of their large size which helps them to settle rapidly. The germlings settle near the parent where the conditions are likely to be favorable. It has been noted that the gametes generally get released during spring tide or just after the spring tide. These plants have two distinct parts, i.e., the dark brown basal axes, and the light colored annual primary laterals. These laterals are torn off or are shed in the summer, as the number of small round vesicles increases at the time of summer. These species can be found in most profuse quantity during the summer because they grow more quickly during the summer season. These species are found abundantly in European countries.
Problems Associated with Sargassum
These plants have several effects associated with it. They have a characteristic of growing on the surface of the water and thus it creates many problems. The main problem is faced by the boats, swimmers and the other species living under the water. These plants create traffic for boats and swimmers. Moreover, the sunlight fails to penetrate these plants in order to reach the underwater communities.
Thus the reduction in light as well as the space on the sea floor, might create a problem for the local species and their population may decrease. Apart from these problems, these species play an important role in providing habitat for small fishes and crustaceans.