By Sean Jansen, Columnist
The waters off of the South Atlantic coast are far from favorable for most of the year. From Southern Brazil to the southern tip of Patagonia off of the Americas, the water is rough, dangerous, teaming with sea life that would love to take a bite out of you. The term “roaring forties” is synonymous with this region, meaning the seas are rough, but ultimately, the water is also brown.
Now when I think of brown water, coming from California, it means that it has just recently rained and there is a large amount of runoff and sediment getting pushed into the rivers, and all the sewage is getting sent into the gutters and lastly sent into our oceans. This turns our tranquil blue-green waters into brown, murky waters that are very unsafe and unsanitary to delve into. But that is not always necessarily the case in California, or in other parts of the world.
There is one such place that I just went to that is the perfect example of an incredibly beautiful ecosystem with an immense color that is gorgeous. Oh, and ya, the water is brown, really brown. The waters off the coasts of Southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina are all brown, yet the sea is teeming with life. People are smiling from ear to ear, enjoying their aquatic sports, and the coastlines are gorgeous. Here is the best part: Aside from the usual pollution that every sea on God’s green earth has, it is unpolluted.
The waters of these coasts get there brown color from a massive river delta that partly separates the countries of Argentina and Uruguay. This river delta is fed by two main rivers, which are in turn fed by many other rivers around southeastern South America. The river delta, along with the surrounding sea, is made up of sediment that has been carried by all of these tributaries from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay, which is pretty cool considering I was swimming in the sea off of Uruguay and could have had sediment around me from Bolivia, a country that is landlocked and has no coastline, a few thousand miles away. Once in the sea, the Malvinas Current carries the sediment up and down the coast.
The ocean color is actually beautiful. I had the pleasure of enjoying it in three different countries, and if you wake up at sunrise and watch the glow from the sun bounce off the water, it has this incredible golden hue that I have not seen anywhere else in nature. Long story short, just because the water is brown, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is polluted. It could simply be a gift from nature, the result of a phenomenon that brings particles from a distant land. Now, don’t go running into the sea the second you see rain on the weather forecast. Be smart. Chances are, unfortunately, the water will be polluted after a rain. But not always, and if the water is brown, it doesn’t mean death. It could beautifully mean life, just a different color than usual.