sea on Earth that never reaches land: Forget the beach, there’s a body of water on Earth that doesn’t touch any coastline. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, this area is called the Sargasso Sea and is characterized by its unique boundaries.
Rather than land, it is defined by ocean currents, so no coast is overrun with sargassum.
The sea is covered in yellowish-brown seaweed (called Sargassum) and has become home to a nightmarish man-made island dubbed the North Atlantic Garbage Patch. However, this environment is a place of real ecological, historical, and even cultural importance.
The special organization created to protect this exceptional sea hails it as a “biodiversity haven” that plays an important role in the wider North Atlantic ecosystem.
The Sargasso Sea Commission notes that endangered eel species go to sea to reproduce, while whales – especially sperm and humpbacks – migrate through, as do tuna and other types of fish.
It is also key to supporting the life cycle of some threatened and endangered species, including the porbeagle shark and several species of turtle.
In the words of renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle, it’s a “golden floating rainforest.”
And the sea is not only a myth for oceanographers but also a subject of folklore.
Christopher Columbus for the first time in 1492 recorded the encounter with strange sargassum mats in his travel diary.
He wrote of his sailors’ fear that seaweed would entangle them and drag them to the bottom of the ocean, or that the windless calms they encountered in the Sargasso Sea might prevent them from returning to Spain.
Such fears became part of the lore of the sea for centuries, and its notoriety was enhanced by its association with the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Known as the area where planes and ships disappear suddenly and without reason, this triangle is located in the southwestern Sargasso region between Bermuda, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
The Sargoza Sea exists thanks to four currents: the North Atlantic Current in the north; the Canary Current in the east; the tropical North Atlantic Current in the south; and the Antilles Current in the west.
These circular currents, called ocean gyres, trap bodies of water within them, resulting in what Jules Verne described in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea as “a perfect lake in the open Atlantic.”
And yet, these days, this “lake” is far from perfect.
Sargasso now faces real threats from shipping – including underwater noise, damage to sargassum mats, chemical emissions, overfishing, pollution from floating debris, and, of course, climate change.
Due to the circular movements of the ocean wheels, the plastic circulates in the sea and joins the terrible garbage that forms there.
It is estimated that the density of garbage in this giant monument is 200,000 garbage per square kilometer.
A new study published on December 8 found that the sea is warmer, saltier, and more acidic than at any time since records began in 1954, and this could have serious and far-reaching effects on other ocean systems.
Lead author of the report, chemical oceanographer Nicholas Bates, warned that the ocean was the warmest in “millions and millions of years”, which could lead to serious changes in local marine life and global water circulation – “somewhere that it is raining”. Or where it is not.”
Speaking to Live Science, Professor Bates admitted that global warming may have reached a point of potentially no return for a long time.