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New Forecast For Cancun Shows Increase In Sargassum Starting Next Week 

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Vacationers who visited Cancun during the winter months were blessed with a limited amount of sargassum, but those visiting in the near future may not be so lucky.  A new forecast for Cancun from the Sargassum Monitoring Network shows an increase in sargassum that will be starting in the next week.  The Sargassum Monitoring Network monitors the arrival of sargassum year round, warning coastal tourist cities like Cancun of the impending arrival of sargassum. 

Sargassum on the Beach in Front of Hotels in Cancun, Mexico

What Is Sargassum? 

Sargassum is a brown seaweed or brown algae that floats on top of the water in oceans in various parts of the world. The sargassum that reaches the Caribbean coast and affects places like Cancun grows in the Atlantic Ocean and gathers to form what is known as the Sargasso Sea.  Sargassum moves through the Atlantic Ocean and eventually to the Caribbean Sea by flowing with the ocean’s currents. 

Worker Cleaning Up Sargassum From the Beach

Where Does Sargassum Come From? 

Sargassum blooms on top of the water and becomes a habitat for all kinds of living creatures. It gathers together as it moves with the current to form a nearly impenetrable mass.  It has always been around but has gotten worse over the last decade or so, becoming a rather big issue for tourist destinations along the Mexican Caribbean coast, as well as for places like Florida in the U.S.  

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Sargassum in the Caribbean Sea

Why Is Sargassum A Problem? 

Where the sargassum causes a problem is when it arrives in the Mexican Caribbean and washes up on the beaches, sometimes completely covering them.  Not only does this take away from the beauty of Cancun’s stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear turquoise blue water, but it also has a foul odor as it decays.  While sargassum is not necessarily dangerous to humans, it can cause rashes and does carry with it sand fleas that bite. 

Sargassum on the beach in the Caribbean Sea

2022 – One Of The Worst Years For Sargassum Ever 

In 2022, one of the worst years for sargassum on record, removal was the main method of combating the annoying seaweed. Heavy equipment was used in addition to workers removing sargassum up and down the beaches in Cancun by hand.  Various short-term solutions have been proposed to deal with sargassum, but none so far have really addressed the problem, either because it hasn’t been sufficient or hasn’t been fully utilized. 

Sargassum with Hotels in Background and a bird in the foreground.

Addressing The Sargassum Problem 

In Cancun, in 2022, a task force was actually formed in order to work together to come up with solutions that would more thoroughly deal with the problem.  The group was made up of government officials, business owners, scientists, academics, and researchers from different educational backgrounds.  They were tasked with finding better solutions for removal but also with coming up with ways to prevent it from reaching the shores of the Mexican Caribbean’s beaches as well. 

Sargassum all along the beach in the Cancun Hotel Zone

Solutions That Have Been Utilized 

One solution for removing sargassum that has been utilized is having naval ships collect it before it reaches the coast.  A solution for keeping it from reaching the shore that was implemented on a small scale was installing barriers to block it from washing up.  Neither of these solutions has fully addressed the problem yet but has provided some relief where utilized. 

Sargassum barrier to block sargassum near Cancun

Sargassum In The Future 

For now, the focus seems to be more on monitoring sargassum along its journey in order to provide a warning when excessive amounts of it are heading toward the Mexican Caribbean.  And while the arrival of it this year is clearly inevitable, there are certain times that you can visit that it likely won’t be as bad, particularly during the early winter months.  Some beaches will also have less sargassum than others, and you can keep track of which beaches those are by following the Sargassum Monitoring Network. 

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