Anyone who visited the Riviera Maya Region this past year may have noticed how bad the sargassum was, depending on what time of year they visited. And anyone who follows news about the Mexican Caribbean surely noticed the news about the beaches being overrun with sargassum popping up every day. Next year, it is the hope of tourists and government officials that the problem can be better addressed, and to contribute to this effort in Playa del Carmen, they are getting new equipment to help deal with sargassum in 2023.
Sargassum – Information For Travelers
Sargassum is a type of seaweed that travels a long journey through the Atlantic before reaching the Riviera Maya region. Originating in the Sargasso Sea, which is located in the Western Atlantic, it travels with the currents until it reaches the Mexican Caribbean coast. Although the sargassum poses no health risk to those that come in contact with it, it takes away from the beauty of the Mexican Caribbean coastline, and it puts out a foul odor that can put a damper on a beach day.
This past summer has been one of the worst years for sargassum, often nearly covering many beaches from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. The season ended in October, but the beaches are rarely ever completely free from the annoying seaweed. It is expected, though, that sargassum levels will remain low for at least the next 2.5 months or so, which is good news for those traveling between now and February. The levels of sargassum can be seen at any time by checking the Quintana Roo Sargassum Monitoring Network.
Earlier in the year, officials and individuals from all backgrounds formed a task force to address the major sargassum problem. One of the things discussed between the task force was a warning system that would warn long before the sargassum made it anywhere near the Mexican Caribbean coast. Numerous solutions to block it from reaching the shore have also been discussed, including barriers to stop it before it gets close to land.
The barrier idea is one that has been used and has provided a minor amount of relief for the areas that have utilized them. The problem is, it just doesn’t seem to be able to handle the vast amount of sargassum that has been present this last year. Still, sargassum barriers are a tool that will continue to be used to at least address the problem at some level.
Government officials, scientists, educators, and even tourist industry leaders have attempted to come up with a suitable solution to the problem. So far, though, nothing that has been implemented yet has made a noticeable difference. Additionally, some of the possible solutions that have been proposed have not been tried out at all, either due to a lack of the necessary equipment or to delays caused by other situations.
In Playa del Carmen, despite the fact that sargassum season is technically a few months away, officials are already making plans to attempt to deal with the issue. The new equipment will help address the problem by providing a way to remove more sargassum. This is according to the head of Zofemat, Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, who stated that “This year, we had about six backhoes in the federal area. Next year we will increase to 12 backhoe loaders and increase to six trucks with 12 containers because we want to be more effective than this year.”
The excessive sargassum on the beaches of places like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cancun this year did not deter millions of visitors from visiting the region. Tourists still flocked to the Mexican Caribbean to enjoy the warm turquoise blue water and all that the area has to offer. But there is no doubt that the millions of tourists that visit every year would love to see a solution to this problem in the future.
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