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Governor Wants Locals Help To Clear Beaches Of Seaweed In Cancun

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The Governor of Quintana Roo has suggested the sargassum problem requires local citizens to assist with the cleanup process. Cancun and other parts of Quintana Roo are seeing large amounts of seaweed being deposited on their beaches.

more men cleaning

Speaking on one of his weekly announcements, Carlos Joaquin commented briefly on the problems the state faces, calling it an economic problem for the state and everyone in it.

He said,

“Today we are talking about sargassum, an issue that concerns us and concerns us derived from what happens when sargassum reaches our beaches, where it undoubtedly affects the economy of the State because it affects the tourism sector that comes with the great attraction of our beaches and that sargassum as a natural phenomenon since it is very difficult to contain or stop it can become a problem.”

busy beach and tractor

The past weeks have seen several initiatives brought into play in an attempt to counteract the effects of the unsightly seaweed. The Navy is currently in the process of installing sargassum barriers at strategic points throughout the state. Each major tourist spot, like Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun, is having a week designated to installing its own protection. That’s bad news for Tulum which will still have to wait almost two weeks for the barrier.

floating sagrassum

Bad weather has continually slowed down the process allowing more sargassum to float through and onto the shorelines. Individual hotels have installed their own barriers, but generally these are not too effective and end up moving the seaweed along to the next open spot.

The collection has already begun on many beaches. Private establishments generally look after their own strip of sand in an attempt to keep guests contented, but the work is hard and preventing it from ever hitting the coast is much more preferable.

men picking seaweed

Joaquin never stated exactly how he wants citizens to get involved. Whether he wants them to go down to the beach and pitch in or if there are groups that they cans join, asking the collective population means the government is concerned about the high levels.

Playa del Carmen and Tulum have already seen tonnes of the sargassum left on their beaches. Tulum in particular is struggling as all the focus goes to the most popular beaches. The other areas have been left with almost meter high deposits of the sargassum.

sargassum barrier

For those unaware of sargassum, it’s a problematic form of seaweed. The macroalgae forms miles out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean, thriving as the ocean water warms. As it grows, it tangles up in itself forming gigantic island like structures that float along the Atlantic currents. These currents generally lead to the Caribbean, and the beaches of Quintana Roo receive a large percentage of the deposits.

At sea, they are extremely helpful ecosystems, feeding nutrients into the ocean and providing a habitat for a number of small animals. But once they arrive on shore they present multiple problems for tourists.

men cleaning beach

When floating in the shallows, the masses of seaweed can prove hazardous for young or weak swimmers who can sometimes get their feet tangled. It’s rare, but any risk is worth preventing. It also turns the water a murky brown, dissipating the usual crystal blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean.

When it makes it to the beach, sargassum produces an unpleasant sulphur like smell making it almost impossible for beach-goers to stick around for more than a few minutes. Add this to the masses of unsightly brown seaweed that’s covering the typically pristine white sand and one of the biggest draws of the area has been ruined for the tourists visiting that week. It can even leave tourists with rashes.

boat on sargassum

The tourist experience is the main reason sargassum is such a strong focus for the Quintana Roo government. Many tourists will cancel trips if they know the levels are going to be high, representing lost revenue for the state.

If you’re intending to head to Cancun or elsewhere in Quintana Roo in the near future, make sure to check in with the sargassum levels to make sure you’re not in for a nasty surprise when you arrive at your hotel.

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