Q: What is the only sea in the world that does not touch land?
A: The wide, wide Sargasso Sea—aka, um, the Sargasso Sea.
Q: What’s that?
A: It’s a lovely bit of symbolism that Jean Rhys attached to her novel Wide Sargasso Sea. It’s also a large (yes, wide) body of water in the Atlantic Ocean, caused by an enormous whirlpool of ocean currents.
Q: Sargasso is seaweed, right? Does the Sargasso Sea have seaweed in it?
A: Yep, lots of it. It’s called sargasso, sargassum, or gulfweed. But the interesting thing about the seaweed of the Sargasso Sea is that, unlike other types of seaweed, it does not need the ocean floor for any part of its life cycle, which means it can live on the high seas, just floating around.
Q: Cool. What else is floating around out there? Unique animal life?
A: Yep, including animals that camouflage themselves in the sargasso. Also, lots of plastic.
Q: Ugh, naturally. I mean, not so naturally.
A: The natural part is this: Anything that floats into the Sargasso Sea tends to stay there, since it’s a gigantic whirlpool.
Q: Hey, I found an article in Sail Magazine about all of this: The Mysterious Life of the Sargasso Sea.
A: Very cool! I love that article’s illustrations, photos, and facts about history, geography, and nature.
Q: But, wait! What does all this have to do with the novel Wide Sargasso Sea?
A: A woman never tells.