The SARTRAC ACM1 was my first time attending a virtual consortium meeting as a result of COVID-19. It was not clear how it was going to turn out knowing that we will not have the opportunity to meet physically. But right from day one, it turned out to be a rather intriguing 4 day meeting. The presentations and discussions were really informational. Indeed it was interesting to see how the sargassum season was progressing across the study sites in 2020, with huge piles of strandings on the beaches of Jamaica and Barbados especially. Also worth noting was the fact that analyses of ocean data have revealed that, the largest Sargassum bloom events in 2015 and 2018 coincided with relatively cooler periods which seems to suggest that warming over the last 10 years probably plays a minor role in inter-annual Sargassum growth peaks. Not to mention the preliminary works of prediction of sargassum events which were intriguing and promising.
One take home for those of us from Ghana and for that matter the West Africa region, was that not much work has been done in the region with regards to sargassum as compared to the Caribbean. Therefore, a number of opportunities exist for the SARTRAC project to fill the existing gaps in the region. There may be challenges with historical data, cloud cover in satellite imagery, among others, but the consensus was that we can always start from somewhere. I really look forward to the next 12 months of field data collection, acquisition and processing of earth observation data and stakeholder engagements, among others. I am sure these next 12 months will enrich our knowledge and understanding especially in our region and we look forward to sharing our experiences at ACM2 in 2021.