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The Sargasso Sea

 

Location of the Sargasso Sea
Public DomainLocation of the Sargasso Sea - Credit: Antur

 

The Sargasso Sea doesn't actually appear as a location in the book, but its symbolic shadow lies over the whole work. It is a stretch of water in the North Atlantic Ocean between the Caribbean and Europe.

The area is abundant in sargassum seaweed, after which it was named by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century. This seaweed floats on the surface and, in nautical mythology, was said to entangle passing ships, causing them to drift endlessly in this mysterious ocean.

The myth has no basis in reality – sargassum has never been a threat to shipping – but sailing vessels did occasionally become stranded here due to the characteristically calm winds of this subtropical latitude.

 

Diagram of global atmospheric currents, with the Sargasso Sea located in the southern horse latitude
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDiagram of global atmospheric currents, with the Sargasso Sea located in the southern horse latitude - Credit: Burschik