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46 Thousand Tonnes Of Sargassum Forecast For Cancun Next Week

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Huge Deposits Expected Across The Mexican Caribbean Next Week

Over 46 thousand tonnes of sargassum seaweed are expected to be deposited across Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean in the next week. A further ten thousand is heading in the same direction the next week.

large deposit of sargassum

According to the Oceanographic Institute, which works in conjunction with the Navy, 46,950 tonnes of the unsightly macroalgae have been recorded in the sea near the Mexican Caribbean, and the conditions are pulling the majority of it towards the coast.

According to the report, the impacted beaches will fall between Xcalac and Mahahual, as well as between Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and the south of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. After this deposit, a further ten thousand is expected to wash ashore a few days later.

artsy seaweed picture

The sargassum problem has been plaguing the Mexican Caribbean for several years with each season increasing in volume. The defensive precautions typically taken by the local government have been hampered by poor weather this year. The Navy has been trying to place barriers along the coast for the past month, but several prominent beach areas are still waiting to receive their own protection.

Just two weeks ago, twenty-six ships were deployed from Chetumal to operate up and down the coast. Two of the boats are sargacero ships, specifically designed to collect the seaweed while it floats far from the coast. These are generally the first line of defense for the beach towns, but with such high volumes floating inland, a lot of the sargassum is still getting through.

man holding handful of sargassum

On the beaches themselves, local government, private establishments, local volunteers, and even prisoners are working from the early hours to clear the popular stretches of beach before the tourists arrive for the day. The government and Navy have brought in several tractors, but the bulk of the pickup is still being done by hand.

bags of collected seaweed

Overall, the Easter period was a success in terms of clearing the beaches. Although some of the less popular beaches were closed to the public after deposits were almost a meter high, the most popular beaches were cleared relatively successfully and allowed hundreds of thousands of tourists to enjoy their time on the coast.

The sargassum isn’t like a typical seaweed. It forms miles out to sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, growing and tangling itself into huge masses that float like islands across the ocean. In the ocean, it’s an incredibly beneficial ecosystem that small animals thrive in, and deposits important minerals into the water.

sargassum barrier installed

However, currents in the Atlantic pull the sargassum into the Caribbean and hundreds of beaches are left dealing with the effects. As it lingers in the shallow waters, the usually clear blue water is turned a murky brown immediately ruining the aesthetic that so many people travel to the area for. It also poses a small health risk as weak swimmers or children can get their feet tangled in the mass. It can also cause rashes for those who come in contact with it.

sargassum deposit on beach

When it hits the sand, the major problems for tourism begin. The huge amounts can quickly pile up on the sand making it almost unusable for most. If some are still able to work around the masses of brown covering the sand, the smell will most likely move them along. As soon as it leaves the water the sargassum begins to rot, producing an unpleasant sulfur-like smell making staying around the beach almost unbearable.

It’s one of the biggest problems faced by the Quintana Roo government. It’s a state which relies heavily on tourism, and its beaches are one of, if not the biggest draws for the region.

family on seaweed covered beach

Those traveling to Cancun or Quintana Roo in the near future should check in with their hotel to find out the most recent projections. The hotels are now offering daily updates on the sargassum problem allowing visitors to plan their vacations easier.

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