Sargasso Sea: interesting facts, mysteries, photos
The Sargasso Sea is a section of the Atlantic Ocean. If you look at the map, it is not limited by the coastline on either side. Many biological mysteries are associated with this area due to the presence of a huge number of floating marine organisms on the surface.
This natural wonder contains a number of interesting facts that have interested travelers since the time of Christopher Columbus.
The Sargasso Sea, interesting facts about which indicate the peculiarity of this body of water, is a unique work of nature. The sea got its name in the 15th century. It was made by Portuguese sailors, who first crossed the territory of the water.
The Sargasso Sea is the largest in the world. Its total area reaches 6.3 million 2 . If you measure the length of the water area from east to west, the distance is 3200 km.
About 1100 km is the length of the body of water from north to south. The oval of the sea changes from time to time because of the ocean currents. However, in general, it has kept its limits for a long time.
The Sargasso Sea, interesting facts about which are given in many sources, has a maximum depth of 6995 m. At the same time, the relief of the bottom is uneven. Here you can observe depressions, alternating with uplands. Taking into account all the depressions and rises, the average value can be taken as a depth of 6000 m. At the bottom of the reservoir there is silt and red clay.
Summer water temperature throughout the Sargasso Sea does not exceed the limits of 28 °. In the southern part of the water area in winter it is 23-25 °. Moving northwestward, the temperature decreases to 18 °.
An interesting place in the structure of the sea is occupied by an area with a water temperature of 18°. This area is located in the area of 33 – 36° N. At the beginning of winter, it forms from the surface to a depth of 300 m. At the end of the winter period, the water is completely mixed.
However, in summer, after the whole thickness has warmed up, the layer is formed again in this area and reaches 400 m. Plunging to a depth of 1200 m, the temperature in the lower layers gradually decreases to 6°.
In general, the water of the Sargasso Sea is warmer than in the Atlantic Ocean. This is due to the fact that cold ocean waters cannot completely overcome the boundary of warm water currents and do not penetrate in sufficient quantities into the reservoir.
The phenomenon of the Sargasso Sea is its level, which is 2 meters higher than in the world’s oceans. The reason is that cold ocean waters wrap around the entire perimeter of the sea. At the same time, warm currents represent a boundary, which does not allow the cold waters to mix with the warm sea. As a result, the level of the sea water automatically rises.
No clear boundaries
The Sargasso Sea, interesting facts about which strike the imagination, has an elliptical shape. This water area is located within the Atlantic Ocean and is limited not by solid shores, but by the currents flowing around it.
Their characteristics are presented in the table below.
|Gulf Stream||A warm current of the Atlantic Ocean flows along the eastern part of North America. It begins in the Gulf of Florida and ends near the island of Newfoundland. The current forms the western boundary of the Sargasso Sea. The temperature of the Gulf Stream at the surface is +25°. At a depth of 400 m it decreases to +12°.|
|North Atlantic .||This current is an extension of the Gulf Stream in a northeasterly direction. It begins off the coast of Newfoundland. Then it moves towards Ireland where it divides into two branches. This current separates the northern part of the sea from the Atlantic.|
|The Canary||A cold current that is the dividing line between the sea and the ocean from the northeast. It runs along the northern shores of Africa and extends to the Canary Islands.|
|The North Passage Current.||Moves from the south side of the sea. This warm current is present in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Its water temperature is 22°.|
|Antilles||Occupies the southwestern boundary.|
Of all the conditional lines, the western and northern boundaries are best traced due to the high velocities of the currents. Not so clear are the delimitations from the east and south. If you consider the underwater topography, in the eastern part the sea rests on the North Atlantic Ridge.
A distinctive feature of the Sargasso Sea is that its conditional boundaries are not constant. In the course of time, there are slight fluctuations. This is due to the movement of the surrounding currents. As a result, the waters of the sea constantly move clockwise and change their parameters slightly.
The boundaries of the Sargasso Sea have a conditional character, since it is located directly in the Atlantic Ocean and has no shores. The waters of the sea, washed out by the nearby currents, can only get into the Atlantic. As a result, there is a circulation of ocean currents. Where the sea took its origin, it comes back.
The Sargasso Sea got its name during the voyage of Christopher Columbus . This interesting fact is due to the fact that his expedition got into waters completely surrounded by algae. The traveler even thought he had reached land, how dense the layer of plants was. On the stems hung berries resembling small grapes.
Since they are called sargazo in Spanish, the sea began to be called by that word as well. In this case it was a mistake, because seaweeds do not have berries. They were plant floats that kept the crop on the surface of the water.
Sargassum grows throughout the West Indies and the American mainland. Hurricanes that come through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico spread them all over the ocean. Then they are picked up by the currents, and they enter the waters of the sea.
The number of such floating algae here is in the neighborhood of 10 million tons. They form huge massifs, where the density of plants reaches about 1-2 t/km2 . The whole surface of the sea looks like a green meadow.
The difference of these types of algae is that they do not attach their roots to the bottom of the ship. Throughout their existence, the plants simply drift in the ocean water.
The Sargasso Sea is almost always in the doldrums. This is due to the fact that it is located in a zone of high atmospheric pressure. In summer, the sun shines all the time and it almost never rains. The water is so clear that you can see any object that lies at a depth of 60 meters.
At present, this weather is not a danger to ships. However, in the period of sailing ships it was a serious challenge. Caught in the full calm, the crew of the ship was in a hopeless position. There was no chance of getting out of the area.
As a result, people died from lack of water and food. What makes the Sargasso Sea unique is that the ships here were not killed by storms, but by doldrums.
In former times, thoroughbred horses were carried along this route. If the ship was caught in no wind, the horses became a burden because they had to be watered. As a result, the animals had to be thrown overboard. For this reason these places became known as “horse latitudes”.
Difficult conditions for navigation
Passing through the Sargasso Sea has always posed a certain difficulty for ships. The lack of wind and a large accumulation of algae has often been an insurmountable obstacle. It was difficult to navigate not only in previous centuries.
Nowadays, for modern ships, the sea also poses dangers. Even large ships find it difficult to navigate through dense vegetation. Algae clog turbines and blades, leading to possible engine failure.
The Sargasso Sea has a rather calm temperament. As a rule, there are no strong winds here, much less storms. Because of the high pressure area, the present anticyclone does not allow the wind to stir. However, this has been a trap for sailing ships in the past. It was not only doldrums that were a major disaster for ships.
Sometimes there were unexpected whirlpools on the surface, pulling all objects on the surface into their vortex. A ship of any size would immediately go underwater. The cause of this phenomenon was the shifting warm currents.
This made the Sargasso Sea famous as a graveyard of ships. It was here that the main events unfolded in the work “The Island of Lost Ships” written by science fiction writer Belyaev.
After the discovery of North America, the sea route through the Sargasso Sea began to pass. It carried consumer goods, crops, and gold. Until people learned how to create massive loans, many ships sank. During this period of time, hundreds of ships ended up at the bottom of the body of water.
Plankton and inhabitants
The presence of large amounts of algae in the Sargasso Sea does not indicate the presence of biological nutrients. The productivity of the body of water is very low. As a result, abundant plankton is also absent. It can be said that these waters are an oceanic desert.
There is a strong evaporation and a small amount of precipitation. Since plankton is the main food for fish, its small amount does not contribute to the development of animal life.
Many protozoan microorganisms are present on the surface of the Sargasso Sea. These include crustaceans, shrimps, sea needles, seahorses, anemones, bryozoans. All of them live on the branches of the Sargassum and feed from the object of their residence.
Larger inhabitants also find shelter in the cluster of algae. These include perch fish, which grow up to 2 m in length. A flying fish is of interest. It can jump out of the water and travel a long distance through the air.
Only here you can find a fish called the sargassum sturgeon. With the help of hooks on its eight fins it moves through the algae and collects its own food.
Representatives of the Sargassum Sea have a similar coloration to algae. Often their body shape resembles twigs and leaves. This camouflage allows them to survive in a dangerous environment. There are also representatives that live on their own.
- European eel. This fish species only breeds in the Sargasso Sea. Moreover, the European eel goes to spawn before it dies. Beforehand, the fish form their own fat reserves. At the same time, their coloration changes. During this period, the meat becomes very tasty. The larvae formed from the eggs live in the Sargasso Sea for some time until they become mature. Then they swim along the Gulf Stream to the shores of Europe, only to return again at the end of their lives. The reason for this behavior of the fish is unknown. There are a number of hypotheses, but they have yet to be confirmed.
- Traveling crab. The animals settle on a branch of sargassum. However, this does not mean that there is a coast somewhere close by. Often an encounter with a crab is misleading to travelers.
- Sea Turtles. Mostly large numbers of them lived a few centuries ago. Over time, there was pollution of the sea, and uncontrolled catching of animals began. As a result, their numbers have decreased significantly. However, in the Sargasso Sea can still be found such species of turtles as rydleya, loggerhead and bissa. They eat jellyfish, algae and invertebrate animals.
- Sharks. Most of the pelagic species are found here. Affects the remoteness of the coast. However, at times you can see such travelers as a blue shark, a silk shark, or a soup shark. Also appears here and longfin oceanic species.
The great depth of the Sargasso Sea does not allow a complete study of its internal plant life. However, according to some scientists, other species of fauna and flora can be found at the bottom of the body of water.
Sargasso sea, interesting facts about which indicate the peculiarity of this body of water, has also negative characteristics. And the accumulation of a large amount of algae is not yet the most serious problem. What is alarming is the clogging of the reservoir.
The currents bring a huge amount of plastic products into the area. These are bags, bottles and all kinds of Styrofoam structures. The floating garbage that appears here accumulates in one place and forms a dense mass in the form of an island.
The reasons for this phenomenon are that for many years mankind has thrown garbage into the ocean waters. Eighty percent of the plastic is from land-based sources. The other 20 percent is ejected from passing ships. Some of the trash has sunk to the bottom, some of the waste decomposes, and others remain on the surface.
Such accumulations were first recorded in 1972. Since then, the situation has deteriorated many times over. The degree of littering increases every year. Garbage patches grow to enormous proportions. In terms of density, there are about 200 thousand of such objects per 1 km 2 of the sea.
Plastic mass can bear human weight. When you move, you feel as if you are moving on an air mattress.
At the same time, such islands pose a serious danger. If a person pushes through the plastic layer with his own weight and falls into the water, he has no chance to get to the surface. Under the influence of the currents, the plastic waste instantly covers the vacated space, restoring the broken structure of the island.
In addition to the danger of being sucked into the water, such islands carry the risk of ecological disaster. Scientists estimate that huge amounts of plastic are eaten by fish every year. If the dumps are not dealt with, they will quickly grow so large that it will be impossible to get rid of them. They will become real solid floating islands in the Sargasso Sea.
The Bermuda Triangle
Sargasso Sea occupies the eastern part of the Bermuda Triangle, so mystical stories about ships have always been associated with this body of water. Often the events had a material explanation. Everything was due to natural phenomena or malfunctioning of ships.
However, the mysteriousness of the Bermuda Triangle has always imposed its mark on the Sargasso Sea. For this reason, incomprehensible disappearances or incidents with ships were mystical to some people.
The table shows incomprehensible phenomena that could not be explained. They happened to a number of ships:
|Rosalie||A French ship in 1840 was found in serviceable condition after calling at the Sargasso Sea, but without crew. According to some reports, the ship of the same name had simply run aground. The crew was removed from the ship after rescue efforts were made. The tide may have brought the vessel off the shoal and out into the open ocean.|
|Ellen Austin||The American vessel Ellen Austin found another ship in the waters of the Sargasso Sea without a single person on board. A crew was sent to the obscure schooner. After a while a fog descended and concealed both ships. As soon as it cleared, the second ship again found no one on board. This mystery has never found a logical explanation.|
|Connemara IV.||This event took place in 1955. The yacht Connemara IV was found capsized in the Sargasso Sea. The crew could not be found. Most likely all of its members were dead. The other thing that seemed strange was that the tether broke while trying to take the vessel in tow. Immediately the yacht sank.|
Such mysterious phenomena in the Sargasso Sea are numerous.
The Sargasso Sea is a unique phenomenon of nature. The peculiarity of the body of water and many interesting facts made it possible to isolate this water space right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.