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New Program Launch Could Drastically Reduce Cancun Sargassum Levels This Year

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Sargassum is becoming an increasingly common sight in Cancun’s Blue-Flag beaches as analysts say 2023 could see record levels of the stinky seaweed wash up on Mexican Caribbean shores.

A cleaner at a Cancun beach dealing with sargassum

New investments in high-tech solutions are constantly popping up, and this week, Cancun officials said they would partner up with a local private firm that promises to quickly dispose of the smelly seaweed and convert it into biofertilizer.

Environmental authorities have announced an ambitious new plan called Adiós al Sargazo (Goodbye Sargassum) to tackle what could become a record-breaking year for sargassum.  Beaches across Cancun and Isla Mujeres are already dealing with extremely high sargassum levels, even before the official beginning of the seaweed season, which usually occurs in early March. 

Beach and resort are in Cancun with travellers

Under the new scheme, officials in Cancun will partner up with a new private firm that is said to be able to process up to 600 tons of sargassum seaweed per day. If everything goes according to plan, Dianco, a high-tech sargassum processing company, could significantly help lower seaweed levels across multiple Cancun beaches. 

According to Héctor Romeo Morales, the CEO of Dianco Mexico, “we are witnessing a tremendous amount of sargassum, which is abnormal compared to previous years, and as a business, we have a lot of work to do. We have the capacity to process 600 tons of sargassum per day and convert it to biofertilizer,” the entrepreneur said in a statement. 

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A beachgoer in Cancun attempting to avoid sargassum

Under the new plan, resort, and city cleaners can simply deposit dry or wet sargassum into several collection points across Cancun, which will regularly be emptied. The sargassum is then collected and processed at Dianco’s waste centers, where it will be converted into biofertilizer. 

Sargassum In The Riviera Maya This Year Expected To Nearly Double Compared To 2022 Levels

Removing tons of sargassum on a daily basis is no easy feat; in fact, Cancun relies on an extensive network of cleaners – around 160 – as well as countless volunteers to clean up massive quantities of sargassum seaweed.

Under the proposed scheme, the company will soon join efforts to tackle record levels of the foul-smelling macroalgae.

A resort in Cancun with foul looking water and Sargassum

Despite being largely harmless to humans, sargassum, a type of macroalgae that forms over the Atlantic Ocean, is an unpleasant sight for Cancun beachgoers. After washing up on shore, it takes just a few hours for it to dry up and emit an unpleasant, rotten-egg-like odor capable of putting off even the most enthusiastic of beach lovers from enjoying a day on Cancun’s white-sand shores. 

Sargassum also poses an environmental risk to the area’s delicate ecosystem, which is home to hundreds of plants and animals. Moreover, experts project sargassum levels to skyrocket as ocean temperatures rise due to the effects of global warming and climate change. 

A local cleaner removing sargassum from a beach in Cancun

What Is The Mexican Caribbean Doing To Prepare For The Sargassum Season?

Popular seaside locations across the Mexican Caribbean are gearing up to remove unprecedented quantities of sargassum this year. Despite optimistic predictions published earlier this year, recent updates suggest Cancun will see even more of the smelly macroalgae than in 2022, prompting authorities to sound the alarm.

Officials in Cancun, for example, have activated cleaning protocols well ahead of the season and have allocated more funds for hiring staff. Playa del Carmen, a resort hotspot some 80 kilometers south of Cancun, has placed massive containers across its popular beaches to improve the efficient removal of sargassum. 

Tourists on a Tulum Beach Covered in Sargassum

New barriers are also being deployed in several Mexican Caribbean locations to prevent sargassum from reaching local beaches. However, environmental experts have said that such measures merely constitute a ‘band-aid’ solution and have called for more extensive steps to effectively get rid of the seaweed. 

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