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Mexican Navy Deploys 30+ Ships to Fight Cancun’s Sargassum Crisis

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Spring is finally here, and for the Mexican Caribbean, this only means one thing –  high season is back.

But spring also marks the start of the dreaded sargassum season, typically spanning from April to September.

Cancun hotel zone beach with sargassum seaweed

Tons of the macroalgae wash up on the shores of Cancun and the Riviera Maya each year, turning beach days for countless spring breakers and vacationers into a smelly, awful-looking nightmare.

In response, local authorities have implemented routine beach cleaning initiatives to minimize the presence of sargassum at popular beaches.

Yet, their efforts often fall short in the face of the sheer volume of this unwelcome seaweed.

With more than 22 million tons of sargassum expected to reach Cancun and Riviera Maya beaches throughout the year, new solutions are sorely needed.

Worker removing sargassum seaweed in Playa del Carmen

Fortunately, the Mexican Navy has intervened, announcing an ambitious plan to combat the sargassum crisis in the Mexican Caribbean.

Keep reading to find out more!

Mexican Navy To Deploy More Than 30 Vessels As Part Of Strategy

The navy’s comprehensive strategy entails deploying substantial resources to bolster sargassum collection efforts in Quintana Roo. 

This includes the oceanic sargassum vessel ARM “Natans” and a fleet consisting of 11 coastal sargassum vessels, along with an additional 22 smaller boats for a total of 33 ships.

Moreover, over 8,000 meters of anti-sargassum barriers will be installed at destinations like Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Mahahual this year.

Mexican navy vessel near Cozumel

The massive operation will be implemented by a contingent of 340 naval personnel, technical-scientific personnel, ship and barrier operators, and on-site maintenance personnel.

Several coastal municipalities, including Benito Juárez (Cancun), Isla Mujeres and Cozumel will be also involved in the extensive recollection work, alongside private initiatives, environmentalists, and locals.

What The Start Of The Sargassum Season Means For Cancun Tourists

So, if the Mexican Navy is developing such a massive operation, this must surely mean that this year’s sargassum season is going to get particularly bad?

Well, not necessarily. First of all, it’s worth noting that local authorities ramp up sargassum cleaning efforts yearly as the sargassum season begins.

Sargassum cleaning vehicle in Playa Forum, Cancun

Given that sargassum growth is closely tied to temperature, ocean currents, and other conditions, it can get tricky to predict exactly when and where the seaweed will arrive.

So, it’s better to be prepared, and these strategies are designed to ensure the cleanliness of Quintana Roo State’s beaches even in the event of a massive influx of the ugly algae. 

That said, it’s also true that the problem has gotten worse over the years, as pollution and climate change are known to contribute to the excessive presence of the seaweed.

Man cleaning Sargassum in Playa del Carmen

This means that addressing these larger issues is essential to combat the sargassum crisis effectively.

Predictions Anticipate A Light To Mild Sargassum Season In 2024

The good news is that even though the sargassum season is officially on, monitoring by the Quintana Roo Citizen Sargassum Observatory shows that most Cancun and Riviera Maya beaches currently have little to no sargassum presence.

In Cancun, beaches like Playa Chac Mool, Playa Marlín, Playa Ballenas, and Playa Delfines displayed very low levels of the pesky seaweed.

View of a popular white sand beach in cancun

Similarly, Riviera Maya destinations such as Akumal, Tulum, Sian Ka’an, and Mahahual are also reporting minimal presence.

Forecasts suggest a high likelihood of sargassum-free beaches during spring break and the Easter holidays in the region, similar to what we witnessed last year.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these conditions can change quickly. So, if you’re planning a trip to Cancun soon, it’s best to stay updated on the latest developments.

In any case, you can expect the most popular Cancun and Riviera Maya beaches to remain pristine this spring, as we’ve seen how extensive the initiatives to address the sargassum problem in Quintana Roo are.

Navy Vessels In Cancun

Plus, counting on the Navy’s well-equipped vessels and its expert team will undoubtedly make the sargassum cleaning efforts much more effective this year.

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