Sargassum Containment Boom Best Practices

Advice for Anchoring, Maintenance, and Deployment

Beach with Sargassum

Each year, it seems like there is more and more sargassum on beaches from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico. Many hotel and beach managers have started to utilize the Orion seaweed containment boom as part of a prevention plan. Boom is simple to deploy and require far less maintenance than daily raking by hand and wheelbarrow.

But it's not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Floating containment boom require regular maintenance, in addition to seaweed removal in order to keep the beaches clean during sargassum season.

As part of maintaining a clean beach, resort, or marina, a floating barrier like GEI Works' Orion sargassum containment boom is just one part of the effort. In addition to the deployment of a floating barrier, the sargassum seaweed still needs to be collected or cleaned up, and the boom will require regular maintenance. Here are some tips when installing your containment boom that will help keep the seaweed off your beaches.

Choose the Right Sargassum Containment Boom

Not all boom is made the same! GEI Works' basic containment boom is a great option for marinas and coves for seasonal use. Depending on your site conditions, you may need a permanent boom, made for changing tide and wave conditions. In heavier surf, you'll need a heavier duty boom and sturdy anchoring plan. The right boom makes all the difference.

Learn more about Containment Boom Installation (PDF).

Beach without Sargassum

Anchoring the Floating Containment Boom Properly

Our product specialists will recommend anchoring dependent on tide conditions, expected wave height, and severe weather. Anchors should be connected to the buoys, and the buoys in turn connect to the boom via the use of painter lines. This distributes the load equally and will help prolong the life of your sargassum seaweed boom.

  • Use at least 3x the depth in line. If the boom is in 10' of water, use 30' of anchor line.
  • Fluke anchors work best on sandy bottoms.
  • Mushroom-style anchors work best on reefs and rocky conditions.
  • Anchors should be a maximum of 50ft, and more condensed in rougher water.

GEI Works has a complete line of anchoring solutions to secure floating boom. Learn more about anchoring your sargassum containment boom.

Conduct Regular Inspections

Regularly inspecting your boom and anchors will help prolong the life of the boom and ensure exclusion of sargassum from your beach or marina. Here are some tips for maintaining your seaweed containment boom:

  • Set a schedule and stick to it. We suggest at least twice a week and after severe weather.
  • Inspect the anchors. In clear water, this can be done with a mask or clear bottom bucket. In murkier water, you'll have to dive on the anchor.
  • Inspect the boom for damage and the connections between lengths.
  • Check the boom, connections, lines, and buoys for marine growth and clean as necessary.
  • Inspect marker lights for functionality, if used. Boats can't avoid the boom if they can't see it. Solar marker lights are a good low-maintenance option, because there are no bulbs to change.
  • Remove excess Sargassum build up.

The boom pictured below was neglected for too long and is no longer effective.

Broken Containment Boom

Clean Up the Sargassum

Leaving piles of sargassum seaweed in open water behind your floating barrier may keep it off the beach, but eventually the seaweed will lose its buoyancy, sink to the bottom, and decay. This starves the coastal waters of oxygen, killing fish and turtles, leaving murky brown sediment at the bottom that smells terrible when kicked up by surf and boats. Therefore, you need a strategy for removing the seaweed.

However, seaweed is a natural part of beach erosion protection, and removing it entirely from the beach may leave it exposed to the effects of wind and water over time. A regular amount of sargassum is beneficial, a large amount is not.

Depending on the site conditions, the Orion boom can be configured in several ways. It can:

  • Completely exclude sargassum from a swim beach or marina and bounce it back out to sea.
  • Collect the sargassum behind the barrier, where it can be removed from the water via skiff or boat.
  • Divert the seaweed to a designated beach collection area where it can be raked.

Questions about using a sargassum containment boom as part of your seaweed-free beach strategy? We can help! Call the GEI Works team at 1-772-646-0597 or fill out our quote request form to discuss your requirements.