Keeping Cancun’s top-rated beaches clean this summer is a major priority for the local government as millions of tourists visit the area over the next few months. Aside from sargassum, a naturally-occurring seaweed, pollution, and plastic waste remain an issue facing the area’s beaches. In order to maintain beaches in pristine condition, Cancun’s government is teaming up with environmental organizations and volunteers to ensure that beaches remain spotless throughout the busy summer.
Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean are home to some of the top beaches in all of Mexico, with 10 Blue Flag-certified beaches found in Cancun alone. As a result, hundreds of employees are working around the clock to keep beaches clean and free from trash and sargassum. The area has recently relied on a new collaborative approach that aims to keep local beaches in stunning condition.
Benito Juárez, the municipality where Cancun is located, has been proactive so far this year in removing waste from its beaches. In the first half of July, more than 5 tons of sargassum have been cleaned up from Cancun’s hotel zone. The massive undertaking relies on hundreds of employees across the area that work tirelessly to keep the beaches in pristine condition for tourists to enjoy. Overall, around 180 employees work full-time to collect trash and other residues from popular Blue Flag beaches including Del Nino, Las Perlas, and Delfines.
Maintaining a high standard of cleanliness and environmental sustainability are key components in order to receive the demanding Blue-Flag certification, an international standard given to top-rated beaches. Currently, Cancun alone has 10 blue flag beaches out of the 19 found across the state of Quintana Roo. The list is subject to change, with yearly evaluation, so it’s always a good idea to check out which new beaches have been added to the list.
In addition to the local government, volunteers and different environmental organizations are also helping keep beaches free of trash and other pollutants. According to Lourdes Latife Cardona Muza, a spokesperson from the state government, working with volunteer groups is key in ensuring optimal cleanliness and high environmental standards. She highlighted that just last week, a clean-up of the popular Playa Tortugas took place with more than 35 volunteers, as a result of which a significant amount of trash was collected from the site, including glass bottles, face masks, and plastic residue.
Meanwhile, sargassum, a naturally occurring and foul-smelling seaweed that washes up on Caribbean beaches during the summer months has been another major issue facing the area’s beaches this summer. Playa del Carmen has been especially hard-hit by the problem this year, despite removing record amounts of the algae in June. Sargassum starts washing up on Mexico’s shores around March, and the issue usually subsides by September. During the summer, several municipalities – including Playa del Carmen – have hired extra workers to ensure that the pesky seaweed doesn’t stop tourists from enjoying popular beaches.
Despite high sargassum levels this year, a recent study by the University of the Caribbean showed that Cancun is home to one of the cleanest beaches in the Caribbean. The report analyzed dozens of beaches, looked at the number of plastic particles found per square meter, and uncovered that the Playa Delfin is one of the cleanest.
On the other hand, Xpu-Há beach in Solidaridad was found to have the most microplastic pollutants, with over 1215 pieces per square meter. With global warming being a major concern, the Mexican Caribbean is especially vulnerable to the earth’s warming and its delicate ecosystem – which includes species like turtles – is affected by increasing microplastic levels in the sea.
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