Caribbean: SAMtool Alert, Sargassum Fishing from Space

The macroalgae Sargassum Natans and Sargassum Fluitans have multiplied over the past ten years in the Atlantic Ocean, washing away the coasts of the Antilles, Central America and even West Africa millions of tons. Sargassum can form a true “brown tide”, consisting of tons of algae, sometimes more than a meter thick, that floats in the Atlantic Ocean and washes up on the coasts, then releases hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Many programs aim to better analyze and manage the spread of this algae, which also affects local economies. For example, for 2018 alone, the cost of cleaning business in the Caribbean is estimated at $120 million.
The management of this environmental issue has become critical for the regions concerned, and the SAMtool Alert Tool project, classified by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in March 2021, falls within this framework.
Service Head Marion Sutton explains that the SAMtool alert, in the “decision support” dimension, was an asset in this process. Ultimately, the idea is to integrate SAMtool Alert into the SAMtool service, in order to achieve a complete solution for the relevant local decision makers.

Initially created in 2018, the SAMtool tool was able to track Sargassum’s movements with satellites, and quickly became a tool for anticipating the movements and cleaning up of damaged beaches, for tourism purposes, but also for public health due to H2S emissions.
Having proven its value over the past few years, the SAMtool Alert project was launched in 2021. Its aim is to improve prevention thanks to the alert system, incorporating issues specific to each territory by taking into account the local socio-economic situation. indicators. Combining satellite observations with economic data for the respective territories makes it possible, beyond detection and prediction, to come up with a proposal for an integrated solution for local decision makers.

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Today, in search of funding to achieve its goal, the SAMtool Alert rating by SCO is, for Marion Sutton, “a guarantee of additional visibility and legitimacy in the face of potential funders and users. The SCO label is an assurance of the quality and expertise of what we offer and demonstrates that the project responds to real climate issues and societal needs.”
The SAMtool Alert is currently being tested with pilot areas in Martinique, and can be applied to all affected areas and become a real tool for Sargassum algae monitoring and control internationally.

Damien Shiloh

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