New projections released by environmental experts suggest that Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean may soon grapple with huge quantities of sargassum seaweed.
The sargassum season typically begins around late February to early March, depending on a number of environmental factors.
But this year, sargassum may start washing up on Mexican Caribbean shores in significant quantities as early as this week.
With over 100 beaches across the sun-drenched region potentially affected by the phenomenon, here’s the latest on the sargassum situation in the Mexican Caribbean.
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Sargassum Seaweed To Make Early Comeback In Cancun And Mexican Caribbean
A massive 5.5-million-ton sargassum patch was recently detected in the Atlantic Ocean, indicating that the seaweed season may begin sooner than expected across Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean.
While the sargassum patch is currently thousands of kilometers away from the Mexican Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, tons of the foul-smelling seaweed are already floating toward the region due to ocean currents.
@mtinatravels What is the seaweed and sargassum actually like in Cancun / Riviera Maya? Here is what its like right now. This can change daily or by the hour even! Don’t let it deter you from your trip- each resort has wonderful pools even if the beach has too much seaweed! #traveladvisor #cancun #secretsakumal ♬ original sound – Martina | Travel Advisor
Officials have begun intensifying efforts to detect sargassum seaweed via satellite imagery as Cancun hires more cleaners ahead of the start of the seaweed season.
According to environmental experts, some 121 beaches across the Mexican Caribbean have already reported the first arrivals of sargassum seaweed, with larger quantities of the macroalgae expected to wash up on shore in the coming days.
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Maritime officials say that beaches in the southern portions of the Mexican Caribbean – Tulum and Xcalak – currently have the largest amount of seaweed. Meanwhile, Cancun, Puerto Morelos, and other northern destinations have lower quantities of the foul-smelling seaweed.
Several beaches in Cancun are currently dealing with minor quantities of sargassum, including Delfines, Chad Cool, and Langosta. According to the Zofemat, the regional environmental agency tasked with maintaining beach cleanliness, workers have already begun removing seaweed from popular touristy areas, especially around Cancun’s hotel zone.
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Officials have also added that now is the best time to enjoy beaches in the Mexican Caribbean, as the following weeks are likely to see significantly larger quantities of sargassum seaweed. Beaches in and around Playa del Carmen are currently in excellent condition following the effects of a recent cold front, which pushed sargassum away from popular local beaches.
According to Adrían Medina Pérez, the head of Cancun’s environmental agency, there is currently no surefire way to predict just how much sargassum could appear on Cancun’s beaches over the coming months.
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That said, officials have significantly intensified efforts to protect beaches from the effects of sargassum seaweed. Although harmless, the foul-smelling seaweed poses an environmental hazard to local wildlife and is an eyesore for millions of travelers.
Last year, the Mexican Caribbean saw huge amounts of sargassum during the first several months of the year. In 2024, authorities are maintaining a proactive stance with regard to the smelly macroalgae, employing a host of measures and tools to eradicate sargassum.
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In Playa del Carmen, which is typically among the most affected hotspots by sargassum, officials are deploying a sargassum barrier earlier than usual as part of a wider effort to shield the location from the seaweed.
Meanwhile, officials in Tulum and Cancun have hired more cleaners and invested more in anti-sargassum technology to ease concerns over the seaweed’s effects on tourism. Travelers can follow the latest sargassum situation on Quintana Roo’s Sargassum Monitoring Network, which publishes weekly updates on the seaweed situation during the sargassum season.
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