In goggles and flipflops, they dive to harvest seaweed. It's risky work. They'll earn $3 to $6 a day. Now climate change and environmental rules make it harder to pursue the traditional profession.
From Montego Bay to Miami, sargassum is leaving stinky brown carpets over what was once prime tourist sand. But whether it gets ignored or removed, it comes with high health and environmental risks.
Since 2011, a fleet of seaweed patches double the size of the contiguous U.S. has cycled from West Africa to Florida, threatening beaches from Martinique to Miami. This year, it could grow bigger.
Seaweed is smothering Caribbean coasts from Puerto Rico to Barbados as tons of brown algae kill wildlife, choke the tourism industry and release toxic gases.