Because of its strange and oceanic conditions, the Sargasso Sea has often been featured as the primary subject in a variety of nautical legends, with the area often being cited as a place of danger and peril.
Although it is unclear when these superstitions first began, many people believe that it can be attributed to explorers such as Christopher Columbus, who wrote in detail about his experience with the sea and its large amounts of Sargassum.
In his diaries, Columbus wrote at length about “how he feared the Sargasso Sea because of its blankets of seaweed, which he believed were hiding dangerous coral reefs, which were capable of sinking unsuspecting ships.”
Although this fear was admittedly warranted in 1492, any fears or superstitions surrounding Sargassum were later debunked in the 1940s, when a scientific publication classed the substance as a holopelagic plant.
However, this does not mean that the Sargasso Sea’s negative connotations begin and end with the seaweed, as the area’s location has also been cited as a primary reason for its fearful reputation.
Because the Sargasso Sea has no coastline or boundaries, it would have been very difficult to navigate upon being first discovered, which probably resulted in many ships sinking or getting lost.
These days, modern sailors are able to chart the waters by using other oceanic features, which help to define the sea’s location and scope.
Is It Safe To Swim In Sargassum?
Although going for a swim in the ocean is not an uncommon pastime, we understand that the notion of swimming through a forest of seaweed may seem like a daunting task.
However, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to meeting Sargassum in the water.
When encountered in its natural environment, Sargassum is completely harmless to humans, although it has been known to sometimes obstruct our vision and create confined and claustrophobic conditions.
However, this does not mean that Sargassum poses no threat to human lives, as the seaweed has been known to be particularly toxic once it has been exposed to large amounts of sunlight and oxygen.
When Sargassum gets washed up on the beach, it will usually begin to decompose, which can result in the weed producing a gas called hydrogen sulfide.
Although this gas is harmless in small quantities, prolonged human exposure can result in sickness and immediate death.