Unusual distribution of floating seaweeds in the East China Sea in the early spring of 2012

Teruhisa Komatsu, Shizuha Mizuno, Alabsi Natheer, Attachai Kantachumpoo, Kiyoshi Tanaka, Akihiko Morimoto, Sheng Tai Hsiao, Eva A. Rothäusler, Hirotoshi Shishidou, Masakazu Aoki, Tetsuro Ajisaka

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47 Citations (Scopus)


Floating seaweeds play important ecological roles in offshore waters. Recently, large amounts of rafting seaweed have been observed in the East China Sea. In early spring, juveniles of commercially important fish such as yellowtail accompany these seaweed rafts. Because the spatial distributions of seaweed rafts in the spring are poorly understood, research cruises were undertaken to investigate them in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Floating seaweed samples collected from the East China Sea during the three surveys contained only Sargassum horneri. In 2010 and 2011, seaweed rafts were distributed only in the continental shelf and the Kuroshio Front because they had become trapped in the convergence zone of the Kuroshio Front. However, in 2012, seaweed was also distributed in the Kuroshio Current and its outer waters, and massive strandings of seaweed rafts were observed on the northern coast of Taiwan and on Tarama Island in the Ryukyu Archipelago. Environmental data (wind, currents, and sea surface height) were compared among the surveys of 2010, 2011, and 2012. Two factors are speculated to have caused the unusual distribution in 2012. First, a continuous strong north wind produced an Ekman drift current that transported seaweed southwestward to the continental shelf and eventually stranded seaweed rafts on the coast of Taiwan. Second, an anticyclonic eddy covering northeast Taiwan and the Kuroshio Current west of Taiwan generated a geostrophic current that crossed the Kuroshio Current and transported the rafts to the Kuroshio Current and its outer waters. Such unusual seaweed distributions may influence the distribution of fauna accompanying the rafts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1179
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr 1


  • East China Sea
  • Ekman drift current
  • Floating seaweed
  • Kuroshio
  • Phaeophyta
  • Sargassum horneri
  • SSH
  • Transport


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