SEAS Vocabulary

(Air) Bladders: Pneumatocysts are often referred to as air bladders.


Anegada Passage: The passage located between the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that Sargassum crosses through on its way to the Caribbean.


Azores High Pressure System: The pressure system responsible for beginning Sargassum’s journey through the loop system. It oscillates between the East and West side of the Atlantic Ocean. When it is located over the Sargasso Sea it is considered to be in a positive state, which describes the high wind conditions that drive mats of Sargassum from the Sargasso Sea, into the loop system.


Barber rake: A piece of machinery that is used to clean up beach debris and Sargassum with minimal sand disturbance.


Beach Cameras: The SEAS Team uses a variety of webcams, security cameras, and resort cameras to remotely ground truth the conditions of the beaches. They provide a vital means of knowing the state of the areas under monitoring.


Beach System: A beach system is described as containing a crest and trough system of sand bars, a naturally shaped beach face, and vegetation filled, healthy dune structures.


Beach-Tech: A piece of machinery that is used to clean up beach debris and Sargassum with minimal sand disturbance.


Blade: comparable to a leaf of a plant, Sargassum grows this structure in order to provide more surface area with which to absorb nutrients.


Bryozoans: An aquatic animal that bares resemblance to Sargassum from afar. Often confused with Sargassum do to their appearance the “moss animals” will pile in wracks on the beach in a similar manner to Sargassum.


Brown Algae: A large group of mostly marine multicellular algae, including many types of seaweed of colder Northern Hemisphere waters and kelp. They play an important role in marine environments, both as food and for the habitats they form.


Caribbean Passages: These are the inflows between the Caribbean Islands from the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean Sea.


Cherrington Beach Rake: A piece of machinery that is used to clean up beach debris and Sargassum with minimal sand disturbance.


Current: the steady flow of surface ocean water in a prevailing direction


Eddie: Often called “warm water eddie”. It is a result of warmer lighter water being separated by surrounding cold, dense water. The eddie, also described as a gyre, spins until it runs out of energy at which point it breaks up and dissipates into the natural currents surrounding it.


Florida Strait: This is the exclusive outlet point of the Gulf of Mexico; it is where the Gulf Stream flows fastest on its journey into the Atlantic.


Green Glow: This is a signature of thick Sargassum mats when picked up by the Landsat images.


Ground-Truthing: The act of confirming remote sensing data by being at the location verifying what the image shows.


Growth Rockets: These have been used extensively to study the hourly growth rate of Sargassum. The rockets are made up of large plastic bottles that contain the seaweed without hampering its ability to float and interact with the surf zone naturally. They are referred to as rockets due to their flotation bottles mounted on the sides that bear an uncanny similarity to the booster rockets used by NASA’s shuttle. 


Gulf of Mexico Nursery: This is a theory that has been proposed by the SEAS Team, that the Gulf of Mexico serves as the primary place of growth for Sargassum. The Sargassum grows extremely well in a high nutrient, near coastal environment. The Gulf of Mexico provides a vast array of locations fitting this description. The extreme growth can be monitored by observing the amount of Sargassum entering through the Yucatan Strait versus the amount exiting through the Florida Strait. 


Gulf Steam: The fastest flowing oceanic current in the world at 5.6 mph, this swift current pulls the Sargassum quickly through the Gulf of Mexico back into the Atlantic Ocean. The Current also is the source of the warm waters that form the gyres in the Gulf.


Gulf Weed: A moniker for Sargassum that originated due to its frequent appearances in the Gulf of Mexico. This term for years was more prevalent than seaweed in the area in Galveston, even inspiring the Gulf Weed Green paint color for the 1932 Plymouth.


Gyre: a rotating ring like system of ocean currents. In the Gulf of Mexico one often spins off of the Gulf Stream carrying mats of Sargassum along with it. It serves as one of the primary means of Sargassum transportation in the Gulf.


High Pressure System: Winds within high-pressure areas flow outward from the higher pressure areas near their centers towards the lower pressure areas further from their centers.


Holdfast: A component frequently found in brown algae that act as an anchor; however Sargassum does not have them due to the fact that it is free floating.


Holly Weed: Terminology used in 1880’s for Sargassum, first found in historical newspapers.


HYCOM: HYbrid Coordinated Ocean Model. HYCOM is used to observe and forecast the changes in oceanic currents.


Iodine Weed: A synonym for Sargassum, in part due to the shared color between Sargassum and Iodine, first used in the 1920’s and 1850’s when people were under the impression that iodine could be extracted from Sargassum.


Iron weed: During the 1900’s this name was used to describe Sargassum, it is believed that Sargassum’s intertwined strength was comparable to that of iron.


Landsat: A series of satellites with the purpose of observing crop health on land. Their images have been repurposed by the SEAS Team in an effort to monitor and forecast Sargassum activity in the ocean.


Langmuir Circulation: Langmuir Circulation is a result of is a series of shallow, slow, counter-rotating vortices at the ocean's surface. These circulations are developed when a particular type of wind blows steadily over the sea surface. Irving Langmuir discovered this phenomenon after observing windrows of seaweed in the Sargasso Sea in 1927.  It is now believed that these

Langmuir cells play a pivotal role in propelling Sargassum through the loop system.


Lower Texas Coast: The Texas Coast stretching from Boca Chica to Padre Island.


Macro-algae: Any of numerous groups of large complex multicellular species of chlorophyll-containing, mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms.


Mona Passage: The passage located between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico that Sargassum crosses through on its way to the Caribbean.


Mid-Texas Coast: The Texas Coast that includes Corpus Christi to Sargent Beach.


NASA GOMI ROSES:  In 2008 the National Aeronautic Space Administration implemented the Gulf of Mexico Initiative, Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences. This initiative began the SEAS Team’s goal of utilizing Landsat images to positively affect the Texas Coastline. 


Neritic Waters: Also called “green water” it is the nutrient rich waters the Sargassum is dependent upon in order to experience large growth spurts.


North Atlantic Oscillation: This is the oscillation that describes the Azores High Pressure Systems movements.


Oceanic (blue) Water: This is deep oceanic water, has little nutrients however it is where the macro-algae spends most of its lifecycle.


Overwhelming the System: When the Sargassum influx is so great that when it is cleaned up by the systems in place, the Sargassum returns to excessive levels in too short of time; this leads to complaints that the seaweed was not properly dealt with in the first place.


Oviedo: A contemporary of Christopher Columbus, Oviedo was the first explorer to pen an original name to the seaweed that had been encountered by so many others. Many called the seaweed various terms but none other than his “Salgazo” ever stuck, (Sargassum). Oviedo also came up with other life changing terms such as barbeque.


Pelagic: located or living in the upper waters of the open sea.  


Pneumatocysts: Small CO2 filled orbs that the Sargassum uses in order to remain afloat.


Remote Sensing: The use of an instrument, such as a radar device or camera, to scan the earth from space in order to collect data about some aspect of it.


River weed: Terminology coined by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to discover the passage way to the East, this term is found within an abstract of his journal.


Rock Weed: A term for Sargassum due to the fact that it looks similar to an algae that grows along the rocky English coastline. Columbus’s navigator is believed to have coined this term.


Salgazo: The name that Oviedo gave to the seaweed that he found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean. This is the first actual identification of this particular seaweed in recorded history.


Sargasso Sea: A phenomenon caused by the Coriolis Effect on the currents of the North Atlantic, the Sargasso Sea is 3,520,000 Square Kilometers of unique ecosystem. It is frequently reenergized thanks to the constantly cycling Sargassum.


Sargassum Fortified Dunes: Dunes that have been naturally reinforced through the use of Sargassum bales that have been placed at their core.


Sargassum Landings: The occurrence of Sargassum making landfall on a coastline.


Sargassum Loop System: A system caused by a combination of influencing factors. The loop system is the primary pathway of Sargassum as it moves. The system begins in the Sargasso Sea, travels through the Caribbean Sea, into the Gulf of Mexico and terminates back at the Sargasso Sea.


Sargassum Mats: This is a terminology used to describe large pods of Sargassum. These mats form as Sargassum reaches near shore and grows exponentially. Often these thick, healthy collections of Sargassum can be picked up as a fluorescent, green glow on the Landsat images.


Sargassum Pods: small individual amounts of Sargassum, these clumps are the beginnings of large healthy Sargassum mats.


Sargassum Wracks: Once Sargassum makes landfall it will pile up on the beaches. As the tide ebbs and flows it shapes these piles into what are known as Sargassum wracks. These wracks are identifiable as mound lines that run parallel to the water line.


Sargassum Slicks: Areas of disrupted water surface caused by the presence of Sargassum. This abnormal pattern can be differentiated from waves, boats and other oceanic disturbances. These slicks allow even small amounts of Sargassum to be located.


Sargassum: A macro-algae from the brown algae family. This seaweed is driven via oceanic and wind currents that create a loop system. The Sargassum is composed of a thin stipe with offshoots of pneumatocycsts and blades. Unlike other Brown Algae it lacks holdfasts allowing it to be free floating. 


SEAS Phase One: The first step in the SEAS Team agenda involves the implementation of NASA Landsat Imagery as a Sargassum early detection system for the coast of Texas. This satellite system allows for up to two weeks advance warning of imminent Sargassum landings.


SEAS Phase Two: As a continuation of the SEAS Team agenda the Landsat Imagery is used all along the Sargassum Loop System. The extended monitoring into the Caribbean allows for earlier Sargassum detection.


SEAS Phase Three: The natural progression of the SEAS Team’s initiative has led to developing a means of allowing Sargassum to serve its innate purpose more efficiently without interrupting a flourishing tourism industry.


Seaweed: Any of multiple macro-algae species that exist in near shore and pelagic ocean waters.


Set and Drift: A mariner’s method of averaging two currents together and finding a mean direction and velocity.


Spattering: A beach condition described as less than 100% coverage of Sargassum in the swash zone.


Stipe: Similar to a plants stem, this makes up the structure of the macro-algae.


Subaerial Beach: This term literally means “under the air”, it refers to that part of the beach that is uncovered by water.


Swash: The turbulent layer of water that occurs after a waves breaking. The swash action is responsible for moving beach materials up and down the beach.


The SEAS Team: A band of misfits established by Captain Robert Webster, overseen by Dr. Thomas Linton. The SEAS Team exists to better the Texas Gulf Coast both environmentally and economically. The Team allows undergraduates and graduate students how to be scientists in a real life application.


Thermohaline Circulation: This refers to the movement of the oceans currents that are driven be differences in salinity and temperature.


Upper Texas Coast: The Texas Coast including Sergeant Beach to Sabine Pass.


Vector: A mathematical concept that shows the velocity and direction of a force. The SEAS Team finds the average mean direction and velocity of the ocean and wind currents which can be represented by vectors.


Vegetative Growth: Growth achieved through the absorption of nutrients through the skin


Windrows: a result of Langmuir Circulation, Sargassum is pushed into these windrows that are caused by the alternating cells of clockwise and counterclockwise rotations.


Windward Passage: The passage located between the Haiti and Cuba that Sargassum crosses through on its way to the Caribbean.


Yucatan Strait: The strait is the only entrance into the Gulf of Mexico, the Sargassum must pass through this point as it is brought by the currents into the Gulf. 

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