A report carried out by Quintana Roo’s Secretary of the Navy (Semar) found that there will be a reduction of leafy-brown seaweed arriving on Cancun’s beaches, from this week onwards. Known as sargassum, this sea plant has been known to spoil beachside vacations for tourists in the Mexican-Caribbean, due to its unsightly appearance and foul odour once it starts to decompose.
Semar found that the amount of bothersome brown seaweed would reduce in Cancun after conducting an investigation of the entire region from the base of Isla Mujeres. The investigation occurred alongside a partnership with the Oceanographic Institute of the Gulf and the Caribbean Sea, to understand how much sargassum would arrive in the Mexican Caribbean in total.
Typically, the regions of Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos and Othon P. Blanco display the lowest level of sargassum in the region, with high amounts normally visiting the tourist-frequented beaches in Solidaridad, Cozumel and Tulum. However, the reduction of the brown seaweed in these areas is set to ensure that tourists can enjoy some of the most famous beaches in the whole of Mexico once more.
This year, the highest level of sargassum in Cancun was recorded in May, when 60 thousand tons floated along the ocean, eventually washing up on the shore and deterring tourists from visiting the beach. A slight decrease was first detected towards the end of August, as hoteliers and tourists alike saw that popular beaches remained sargassum free for longer than usual.
Due to the high levels of unsightly brown seaweed found on Cancun’s most popular beaches this summer, many tourists flocked to the nearby Holbox Island to relax on pristine white-sand beaches, without seaweed contamination. Other tourists tend to visit cenotes in the area, as they were free from the invasive seaweed. They also offer many of the same attractions as beaches, including swimming and snorkelling.
Those who did stay in Cancun and its surrounding areas had few beaches to choose from, as the majority of those in the hotel zone was overrun with the disruptive brown algae.
Semar also acknowledged that a decrease in the invasive brown algae would not be possible without the effort of sargassum cleaners, employed by several municipalities of the state of Quintana Roo.
Naval personnel also contributed to sargassum removal by constructing containment barriers and collecting the seaweed on coastal vessels. In total, cleaners and collectors were able to remove over 46 thousand tons of sargassum from Cancun beaches this year alone.
Despite the reduction of sargassum projected for this week onwards, Semar has stated that some flare-ups could occur over the next few months, but that removal will occur rapidly and efficiently:
“It is important to mention that some repeats may occur … as part of the variations in wind speed and the Yucatan current, coupled with the presence of hydrometeorological events.”
The decrease of sargassum seaweed at this time is perfect for tourists planning a fall or winter vacation in Cancun and the surrounding region: the months of October to January are excellent times to visit Cancun, due to weather that isn’t too hot, alongside a reduction in tourists and of course, a lack of smelly sargassum.
To ensure that levels of sargassum do not inhibit tourists from enjoying the beautiful beaches of Cancun, Semar is working closely with the government of Quintana Roo and its coastal authorities to permanently carry out actions that will greatly reduce any sargassum due to arrive on Cancun beaches in the coming winter season.
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