its the invasion of the seaweed monsters.
The high constant wind is the key. For anyone who had done any sailing offshore from the Bahamas, there really is a Saragasso Sea with LARGE concentrations of saragasso seaweed floating, aptly named. The high winds break off clumps of it from the edges and push it on shore eventually and that is most likely what you are seeing if you are on the windward side of the island. I've only seen really bad seaweed (more of a conch grass type) piles on the leeward side after hurricanes. Both make great top dressing for plants after they've been sufficiently rinsed by the rain so it is both a blessing and a curse.
how do the beaches become "clean" again after the seaweed pile-up? i can't imagine that people bring dump trucks to all these beaches to clean them (although some of them certainly are cleaned by humans). does the stuff eventually blow away "tumbleweed" style?
It dries up, falls apart, and blows away. Or it gets covered by wind blown sand. Or sometimes very late at night the sand crabs eat it.
I have also seen, with a real high high tide, seaweed being carried back out to sea. It doesn't go far, you can frequently see is ( as dark blob on the bottom) a few yards offshore.
these large seaweed areas are usually contained by the currents around them, and that's where these huge areas of plastic garbage we've been hearing about starts accumulating. So when the seaweed starts coming in, you can expect the garbage will as well.
we have been here for a couple of weeks watching the seaweed. and the seaweed catches the sand and it gets covered up. each day there may be more or less seaweed depending on the way the ocean was the night before. it seems the seaweed protects the beaches.
Actually its a secret but there are seaweed gnomes that roam the islands after dark and take all the seaweed back out to sea. Reason it collects at times is they're busy working on other islands as they make their rounds from island to island. I know this to be true as one Friday after the Fish Fry and a few drinks at Ronnie's I ended up on a beach, Just to rest shall we say and I happened to open my eyes and there they were, busily working. Others may be able to verify my story too but are too embarassed. I can't be the only one to have seen them!
musta been an early cocktail hour..
Back to what Jeri tried to tell us a few posts ago; yes, there is a Sargasso Sea. It covers a part of the North Atlantic bigger than the US of A. It is solid Sargassum weed, can hinder progress of vessels trying to push through, catches lots of garbage and, mostly, just sits there. Storms can, and do chew it up and then the easterly winds bring it in to us. And Florida, and any other area downwind. One theory of mine, and that's all it is, is that the storms we missed last fall that turned and moved up through the Atlantic, stirred it all up, broke it up and the easterly winds brought an unusual amount to us. And to florida, etc. Just a guess - I'm not a marine scientist.
Another thought: for years we raked the seaweed, dug holes and buried it. Now, we rake it, pile it up at the base of the dune and then, when the wind blows sand in to cover it and mix with it it will, hopefully, make the dune grow. Just another theory, but it seems to be working.
After one particular storm, we were shocked to see the amount of seaweed in front of our beaches in front of our house.
Remembering an old Bahamian contractor, I just did nothing. His feelings was just to let it go, that the sea would take it away, as well as bringing it.
He was right. After a few months, it was all gone.
The ocean taketh, and giveth.