The Sargasso Sea is an area of anticyclonic water cycle in the Atlantic Ocean, its limits are considered warm currents. The name of the sea comes from the algae, Sargassum, which live in large numbers in its waters.
The surface of the Sargasso Sea
Where is the sea
The Sargasso Sea is located southeast of the coast of North America between 24-35°N and 30-66°W. To the south, it is bounded by the island of Puerto Rico. To reach the sea, fly to Bermuda Airport, then take a cab or bus to the coast.
How it differs from other seas
The sea covers 6-7 million km². Its size varies depending on the shifting of the moving currents:
- The Gulf Stream from the west;
- the Canary in the east;
- the North Atlantic Current from the north;
- the Northern Passage Current from the south.
Under their influence, seawater slowly circulates in a circular direction from left to right. The Sargasso Sea differs from the other seas in that it has no land banks. The only land areas to the northwest of the sea are the Bermuda Islands of volcanic origin. They are overseas lands of England, and the waters of the sea itself belong to no one.
Thanks to the warm currents that surround the area, the water temperature at the surface varies from 17 to 29°C depending on the time of year. The salinity level is 35.7%. The average depth of the sea is about 6,300 m and the maximum depth is 6,990 m. The bottom is covered with silt and clay. Due to the circulation of water, the level of the Sargasso Sea is 1 m higher than the ocean surface. The sea has an elongated shape, its length from west to east is 3,200 km and from north to south is 1,100 km.
The peculiarity of the Sargasso Sea is the long brown algae that float on the water surface in colonies. Their reserves are estimated at 5-10 million tons. Algae in such a volume appeared here due to the convergence of the surface warm currents. Their colonies are not a hazard to ships and do not interfere with navigation.
More damage to the ecology of the sea is caused by the debris brought by the currents from the shores of the continents, it subsequently accumulates and turns into large garbage patches.
INTERESTING FACT . Storms in the Sargasso Sea are very rare. A number of studies by Soviet scientists have confirmed that the main movement of water here is at depth. Depending on the gradients of the enveloping currents, large and small eddies are formed under the water column.
How does algae look like from under the water?
The climate of the Sargasso Sea depends on the temperature of the surrounding currents. The water temperature is 17-21°C in the winter and can reach 29°C in the summer. Winds rarely blow here, high atmospheric pressure prevails, so there is little rainfall. In general, the Sargasso Sea area has an arid, warm climate, and fog frequently occurs in winter. The lack of drastic changes in temperature explains the amazing transparency of the water and contributes to the active proliferation of algae.
Flora and fauna
The plant life of the Sargassum Sea is represented by the Sargassum algae. Their stems are inhabited by some protozoan polyps, such as bryozoans and actinids. Also, the sargassum sea clown likes to hide in the algae thickets. Plankton does not live here because the water is too warm. In the sea live different types of sharks: blue, soup, silk. Also there are tuna, sardine, mackerel, mackerel, needlefish, wahoo, flying fish, crabs and shrimp. Young green turtles feel comfortable in the sea. As they grow up, they move to live in the ocean.
Brown algae attract eels to the sea, which come here to spawn. Every seven to eight years, freshwater eels that live in rivers in Europe and America make their way to the Sargasso Sea. They give birth to their offspring and then, exhausted by the long journey, die.
Eels swim to spawn in the Sargasso Sea
Historical information about the sea
The Sargasso Sea was first mentioned by Christopher Columbus in 1496 in his logbook. He is also its official discoverer. But there is evidence that these waters were sailed by the inhabitants of ancient Carthage.
The sea got its name from the air bubbles that accumulated under the seaweed. Their shape reminded sailors of the grape variety “sorgasso”. At first it was assumed that most of the brown vegetation got here because of the currents, but in fact this was not the case. Studies have confirmed that it is in the waters of the Sargasso Sea that most vegetation is born and dies. When algae die, they can’t stay on the surface and sink to the bottom of the ocean, creating a breeding ground for local fauna.
Because of infrequent winds and constant doldrums in the 16th and 19th centuries, ships were delayed in transit for long periods of time. This led to a rapid decline in food and fresh water on the ships, resulting in sailors having to get rid of horses and other animals.
The first garbage patch in the Sargasso Sea was discovered in 1971. Since then, the amount of trash in local waters has only increased.
Until 1986, no significant historical events occurred in the Sargasso Sea. But then an incident occurred that nearly jeopardized relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. In October 1986, a Soviet K-219 submarine with nuclear warheads was based at sea. The ship was on duty and patrolling the area, but suddenly there was an explosion in the engine compartment and a fire broke out. A lieutenant and an enlisted sailor rushed to eliminate the consequences of the accident. They both died in the line of duty, the submarine sank, but the crew managed to save themselves. Sailor Sergei Preminin was posthumously awarded the Order of the Red Star. He managed to save the others from death and prevent an ecological disaster in the Atlantic.
The Bermuda Triangle and its mysteries
The Bermuda Triangle is an area in the middle of the Sargasso Sea. It is formed by the coast of Florida, the coast of Puerto Rico and the Bermuda Islands. There are many legends and mysteries associated with the Bermuda Triangle. It is known that there are a lot of disappearing ships and planes. However, there were cases where the ships were found, but without crew and passengers. For example, the ship “Rosalie” was found drifting through the sea without a single person on board in 1840. A similar case occurred with the Mary Celeste in 1872. It was found at sea with its cargo intact, but there were no people or lifeboats on board. It was assumed that everyone had drowned during the storm while trying to reach their destination. In 1925, the merchant ship SS Cotopaxi also mysteriously disappeared, sailing with cargo from the port of Charleston to Cuba.
This is what the Bermuda Triangle looks like on the map
Prior to the 1940s, society paid little attention to missing ships around the Bermuda Triangle. A surge of interest in the area came after five Evenger bombers went missing in 1945. They disappeared from radar and their wreckage was never found. The seaplane that was sent to search for the bombers was also missing.
INTERESTING FACT . The phrase “Bermuda Triangle” was first used by writer V. Gaddis in 1964 in an article entitled “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle” by Argosy magazine.
In 1965, a C-119 plane with 10 crew members went missing. No remains have been found. There are many theories as to why ships and planes go missing in this area. Some spoke of abduction by aliens or inhabitants of Atlantis, others of travel to parallel worlds, others suggested that infrasound, originating in the depths of the sea, was to blame. But in fact the disappearances have a very scientific explanation – it is difficult weather conditions and whirlpools forming in the sea. Most of the missing ships were sailing ships. With incessant doldrums, navigating such vessels in the Sargasso Sea is problematic. In most cases, the crew ran out of fresh water and people died. This version is confirmed by the fact that since the end of the twentieth century the series of disappearances has almost ceased. Modern technically equipped ships do not depend on the wind and easily pass through the dangerous Bermuda Triangle.
We suggest watching an entertaining video about the Sargasso Sea and the causes of accidents in the Bermuda Triangle.
What to see in the Sargasso Sea
The most interesting sights are in the Bermuda Archipelago. You can admire the nature and coral reefs in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Turks abounds with salt lakes, making it attractive to salt miners. Stingrays and turtles can be seen in the clear sea water, and humpback whales come here in winter. Cruise ships dock near the best beaches in Turks and Caicos for tourists to enjoy the clean, soft sand and warm water.
Lovers of architectural and cultural attractions are recommended to visit the capital of Bermuda, Hamilton. Here is the early twentieth-century Cathedral of the Bridge of the Holy Trinity, built in the neo-Gothic style. On top of one of the hills stands Fort Hamilton, built in the late 19th century. It offers wonderful views of the capital and the harbor. The walls of the fort are equipped with 10-inch fort guns, designed to protect against possible attack from the sea. At the Bermuda Historical Public Museum, visitors will see a rich collection of exhibits about maritime discoveries. The museum’s collection includes items salvaged from the bottom of shipwrecks.
To spend your time admiring the beauty of nature, you should visit one of the green areas of Bermuda: Victoria Park, Blue Hole Park, Botanical Gardens in Paget. Of interest is the former capital of St. George, an old English town founded in 1612. It is listed as the oldest surviving town in the New World by UNESCO. In the central part of the town are historic sites that are several centuries old: the square, the town’s parliament and courthouse, and St. Peters Church.
USEFUL INFORMATION . You can come to Bermuda at any time of the year. For a beach holiday, it is better to choose the period from May to November. During this time, the islands are full of tourists and prices for everything go up. In winter, come here to admire the local nature, play cricket, explore the sights, see the whales.
To take a comfortable dip in the Sargasso Sea, you need to visit one of the beaches on the south coast of Bermuda. Since the water temperature of the sea is kept at 20°C and above all year round, the soft gentle beaches with warm water attract visitors all year round. Divers and snorkelers also like to come here to admire the fish in the clear water. The best beaches in Bermuda are:
Horseshoe Bay Beach, located in Santhampton County, is Bermuda’s most famous beach. Warwick Long Bay is covered with soft pinkish sand, beyond which begins a line of vegetation, grape bushes and cedar trees. It is located near the Warwick area. Tobacco Bay is near the bustling center of the St. George area. One of the most beautiful beaches is Elbow; it attracts pristine white sand, azure waters, and picturesque palm trees. Lovers of secluded recreation prefer to come to Chaplin Bay. This quiet spot with soft white sand is designed for a serene vacation away from the crowds of tourists. Jobson Cove is located on the south shore and is surrounded by cliffs.
You can stay in one of the hotels in Bermuda. The most developed infrastructure in the capital city of Hamilton, you can also find accommodations in Tucker’s Town, St. David’s, and St. George.
The mystery of the Sargasso Sea and why ships die there
Almost all of the mystical places people talk about, giving them a mysterious halo, are on the water. When “ends are in the water,” disappearances do seem very strange and inexplicable. One such place where sailors are still afraid to go is the Sargasso Sea, which has features that set it apart from the rest of the world’s seas. There is some mysticism in this story, but scientists have been able to explain most of the mysticism. The explanations turned out to be very interesting and are often based precisely on the peculiarities of this part of the world’s oceans.
At one time a lot of ships disappeared in the Sargasso Sea.
The most interesting sea in the world
The Sargasso Sea can truly be considered one of the most interesting seas in the world. There are several reasons for this. For example, this sea is the only one in the world that has no shores. It is sort of deep in the Atlantic Ocean and partly inside the Bermuda Triangle, which I told you about earlier, and how a whole bunch of American bombers disappeared in it at once.
Because of the very strange shape of the currents that occur in this region, the water in the Sargasso Sea is almost always still. At the same time, the currents that exist around it are constantly bringing algae and debris inside its waters. It’s a kind of settling tank, with an estimated 10-11 trillion tons of algae already accumulated in it.
Such islands of algae can be found almost everywhere in the Sargasso Sea.
If there is no question about the algae, then solving the garbage problem, which is also very acute here, is a very important task. In fact, the presence of such an area can be considered a literal gift of fate for mankind. Of course, there is microplastics, but the fact that there is no need to chase large garbage all over the world’s oceans makes its collection for subsequent recycling very convenient. The main thing is to start doing it.
The water temperature at the surface of the Sargasso Sea is about 28-29 degrees, and scientists say that the water level here is about 1-2 meters above the entire level of the world’s oceans.
Also, scientists are still unable to answer the question of why eels from Europe come here to lay their young. The most interesting thing is that after the birth of offspring sail back, and this way it takes them at least three years.
The Sargasso Sea is in the western Atlantic Ocean.
How ships go missing in the Sargasso Sea
Many ships have gone missing in the sea we are talking about today, and sailors tell each other legends about ghost ships that are found in the area. Because of this, the Sargasso Sea is notorious and sailors are afraid to enter it.
Ships in the waters of this sea go missing mainly for two reasons. The first is the large amount of algae and debris, which got there in the old days as well, even if not in such quantities as now. This led to the fact that the ships could literally get bogged down in them and not be able to pass on.
We cannot call the Sargasso Sea a graveyard of ships. But a lot of them perished there.
The second reason is the very rare winds in this region. Because of this, many sailing ships, once in the waters of the Sargasso Sea, simply could not leave it. As a result, they would run out of provisions on board, the crew would often revolt and everyone would either die or try to escape in paddle boats, but such ideas were often doomed to failure as well.
These two reasons often meant that the ships that passed through the Sargasso Sea were never seen again. However, the opposite has also happened when ships have been found there. An example is the ship Rosalie, which was discovered in these waters in the 1840s. There was not a single crew member aboard, and the ship simply drifted by itself. However, there have been more famous and mystical finds in the Sargasso Sea.
For example, one of the most mysterious ghost ships in maritime history was discovered in its western part in 1872. It was the ship Maria Celeste. It so happened that there was not a single person aboard the ship either – everyone was missing.
Drawing of the ship “Maria Celeste” back when it was the “Amazon”
In general, the history of this ship was very interesting. At first it was called the Amazon, but something always happened to it. It got into trouble in port, something happened to its cargo, and in 1868 it was scrapped. The company that owned the ship refused to continue to operate it, and it was resold several times. As a result, the ship was purchased for $1,800 by New York sailor Richard Haynes. He spent another $8,500 or so to restore her, named her the Mary Celeste, and set sail on her in 1872, taking her cargo with him. He took his wife, two-year-old daughter, and seven crew on the voyage.
Interestingly, the ship was carrying a cargo of food and explosive ethanol. When the ship was discovered, everything on board when it left port was in place. This refutes the theory that pirates may have taken over the ship. They certainly would not have given up such valuable booty. One theory is that the ship’s crew were frightened by the ethanol leak and hastily abandoned ship. Naturally, the lifeboats were not found, nor was the crew. Again, only as a theory, it is believed that they sank during the storm.
Captain Haines and family.
How many ships are missing in the Sargasso Sea
It is difficult to name the exact number of ships that have gone missing in this very unusual sea. The count probably goes into the dozens, but it’s not impossible to say hundreds. The problem is that it was mostly sailing ships that went missing at a time when there were no current means of positioning. That’s not how the records were kept back then. Many of the missing ships are simply not known to anyone. If you know something about it, tell us in our Telegram chat. Everyone would be very interested.
Now this place is far from the best for ships and so they try to avoid it. Because of this now ships in this region are no longer missing as often as they used to. This is probably one of those places that used to be mystical, but now it no longer has that air of mystery about it.