Promising Reaction From Tourists Despite What Is Set To Be Heavy Year For Seaweed
Tourists in Playa Delfines have been spotted enjoying the beach despite the presence of massive amounts of sargassum seaweed. The beaches of Quintana Roo have been struggling with what looks to be a record year for unpleasant macroalgae.
Onlookers were surprised to see both foreigners and locals enjoying the beach despite a large amount of seaweed plaguing the sand and shallow waters. Many of them were seen swimming, although purposely avoiding any areas where the brown algae were floating.
It’s a pleasant surprise for many, as the seaweed typically deters locals and tourists alike, due to its horrible sulfur-like smell and unsightly appearance.
How long tourists are likely to hang around the beach while it is present is another question altogether. With many maybe enjoying the first or last days of a vacation, they may have seen it as the only way to enjoy their day. But with millions of visitors expected over the Easter period, it’s unlikely that everyone would react in a similar manner.
2022 is looking to be a record year for sargassum. According to several reports, more than 50 tonnes of seaweed are being washed ashore in Quintana Roo every day. The early onset of the deposits means the Navy was unable to place the barriers in time to stop the bulk of the algae from washing up, and they are now scrambling to get them up in Tulum and other areas.
According to the director of the Sargassum Monitoring Center, over 4.2 million tonnes have been deposited since February. It has started earlier this year and been even more aggressive than in past seasons.
The Governor has already called upon locals to help with the clean-up process, a sure sign that the sheer volume of sargassum appearing is too much for them to handle with their current protocols.
Hotels are hiring multiple new employees with the sole purpose of collecting the seaweed, but the emphasis on the most popular hotel strips means that some slightly less popular beaches are being neglected. With no attention being given to them, piles of sargassum as high as one meter are being left on these areas of the beach. These beaches are still popular beaches, especially with longer-term visitors and locals, funneling the usual patrons of those spots to the now even busier hotel strips.
The sargassum problem is one that will not be going away anytime soon. While it’s always been an issue, climate change and the rising water temperatures associated with it spurs the growth of macroalgae. It thrives in warmer waters, causing greater issues every year.
It forms miles out to sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, creating gigantic tangles that move towards the Caribbean like floating islands. At see, they’re an extremely important ecosystem that hosts thousands of small animals and lends vital nutrients to the ocean.
But once it hits the shore, it becomes a nightmare for the tourism industry. Its unsightly brown appearance turns the typically pristine beaches of the Mexican Caribbean into something resembling a natural dump, and its sulfur-like smell forces tourists away from the beach, unable to linger too long when it’s near. Even in the shallows, it can cause some potential safety risks for weaker swimmers or younger children, who can become tangled in its seaweed knots.
The government is trying many different ways to beat the problem. Drones and hot air balloons patrol the sky to track any major formations of the seaweed approaching the shore The Navy often intercepts these on specialized boats, but it’s impossible to catch it all. The barriers do a good job of stopping large formations of it, but when it comes early, it’s tough to fight back.
Those hoping to travel to Cancun or Quintana Roo should check in on the sargassum levels before arrival to ensure a pleasant stay.
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