By William Jones, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Images from the U.S.’ Space Agency NASA have identified an 800km stretch of algae lurking off the coast of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The algae stretches as far as the southern city of Santa Catarina and, as a result, has left oceanographers and weather experts fearing that heavy storms will arrive on Brazil’s coast at the end of summer or in early autumn.
The picture, obtained by Brazilian national newspaper O Globo and captured by NASA’s aqua satellite from space, show a result of the decomposition of algae ingested by other microorganisms which has been formed by the recent heat wave. Experts consulted by NASA identified the species as Myrionecta Rubra and say that it is not toxic to other marine life or to humans but represents a lack of equilibrium in the area’s ecosystem.
Oceanographer, Heitor Augusto Tozzi, said that the sheer size of the ocean growth is not just dangerous in terms of the Atlantic region’s ecosystem but a cause for concern is the possibility of “heavy storms” due to the imbalanced and particularly hot weather the state has been experiencing lately.
“What’s striking now is the dimension of the phenomenon. That is not just a sign of the strength of that body heat, but it can also represent imbalance in marine ecosystems,” he told O Globo. “It was active throughout the month of January and is so intense that it can only be broken by a cold front with real power. This means the possibility of heavy storms,” he said.
Professor of Coastal Engineering at UFRJ (Federal Univeristy of Rio de Janeiro), Paulo Cesar Rosman, believes that the formation of huge strain of algae is the result of a series of abnormal weather events such as irregular tides and lack of winds.
“Algae need nutrients to live and heat,” he said. “In normal situations, substances that nourish them are dispersed by wind, rain and sea currents. If they are weak, these microorganisms are stationed on the coast.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.