As is already happening in other parts of the state, sargassum has been present on the beaches of Tulum, said Melitón González Pérez, municipal director of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat). Even though the Sargasso Monitoring Network of Quintana Roo says, “We are almost starting the 2023 sargassum bloom,”
González Pérez said that his staff’s work has already shown that the macroalgae have arrived on the public beaches of Tulum National Park (PNT). He also said that forecasts show that there will be more sea ferns in the days to come.
The interviewee recalled that last year, between January and February, they began to have the presence of sargassum along the coastal coasts of Tulum. Sargassum began to appear along seashores in March and April 2022, with forecasts for this year reserved.
Esteban Jess Amaro Mauricio, who is in charge of the Sargasso Monitoring Network and is a hydrobiologist, said that sargassum has already been seen in some parts of Tulum, like Punta Piedra, the archaeological zone, and the Mayan Arch.
He said that the reports are made by people who use the internet and take part in a semaphore that posts information every day on the Facebook page Red de Monitoreo de Sargazo de Quintana Roo, which any citizen can look at.
The presence of sargassum is also being reported in other coastal areas of the entity, such as in Punta Norte and Punta Molas in Cozumel; in Playa del Carmen, especially around the Xcalacoco area; in Puerto Morelos; in Bahía Petempich; and there is also one in Cancun, in Punta Nizuc, where the second viewpoint is located.
Nevertheless, Amaro Mauricio declared that up until now the arrivals were of low to medium intensity, “but we are practically starting with the 2023 sargassum season.” He said that once the government and experts share the satellite studies, they will release the exact information about what is expected for the current year, 2023.
Tulum Sargassum Seaweed Map
Blue flag – no seaweed, green – very low, yellow – moderate, orange – abundant, and red – excessive amounts of seaweed on Tulum’s beaches. Data: The Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone Benito Juarez and Quintana Roo Sargasso Network.
When does the seaweed season start in Tulum?
Sargassum seaweed in Tulum usually starts to arrive towards the end of March or April. Still, hoteliers have already gotten used to it, as it is a recurrent and seasonal phenomenon. In many cases, individuals collect a large part of the seaweed and invest unsustainable amounts, so they have to seek to make it more and more economically sustainable.
Cleaning sargassum has reached the cost that lodging centers spend to pay for the electric energy service in their businesses. The seaweed, which can double in less than three weeks and has particularly saturated the beaches of Tulum, became a problem for the tourism industry of unimaginable magnitude.
What is sargassum?
It is a brown floating seaweed that reproduces rapidly and feeds on sunlight. Its origin is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the north of Africa and the north of South America, where the so-called “Sargasso Sea” is located.
The marine currents drag the sargassum towards the north of the planet in the direction of the Caribbean Sea. Its presence obstructs the passage of light to the sea, which affects marine life, mainly underwater grasses.
Being in a kind of islands, the lower parts of the sargassum islands that form in the sea die and generate acids and other compounds harmful to marine life and human activities on the beach. Therefore, it has to be removed immediately, which also causes beach erosion.