April 6, 2024
Today´s Paper

Massive Arrival of 200 Tons Expected in the Battle Against Sargassum

The Mexican Caribbean has been continuously plagued by the persistent issue of Sargassum, witnessing the arrival of massive quantities of this seaweed during the summer months for several consecutive years. This predicament has prompted coastal vacation destinations to devise strategies to minimize its impact on the tourism industry.

What exactly is Sargassum?

The vast and mysterious ocean holds countless wonders, and one such enigma is the fascinating marine plant known as Sargassum.

Sargassum is a type of brown macroalgae that forms floating mats in the open ocean. Its name derives from the Sargasso Sea, a vast region in the North Atlantic Ocean where these mats are often concentrated. This resilient plant has distinctive features that set it apart from other algae species. With its elongated fronds and distinctive golden hue, Sargassum possesses a mesmerizing beauty that captures the imagination of scientists, researchers, and nature enthusiasts alike.

Massive Arrival of 200 Tons Expected in the Battle Against Sargassum

Sargassum plays a crucial role in marine ecosystems, serving as a habitat, nursery, and feeding ground for a diverse array of marine species. Its floating mats provide shelter and protection for a wide range of organisms, including fish, turtles, crustaceans, and seabirds. Many species find refuge in the Sargassum’s complex structure, taking advantage of its abundant food sources and camouflage opportunities. The intricate ecosystem within Sargassum is a testament to the remarkable interdependence of marine life.

While Sargassum contributes positively to the marine ecosystem, excessive growth can lead to environmental challenges.

Sargassum season

Massive Arrival of 200 Tons Expected in the Battle Against Sargassum

The occurrence of abundant Sargassum in Tulum and the rest of the Mexican Caribbean during the months between April and October is not uncommon. Typically, the peak season falls in July or August, but predictions for this year indicate that June and July will be the worst months for Sargassum. While the presence of this seaweed tends to be lower during the fall and winter months, it can still wash up on the beaches at any time throughout the year.

The arrival of Sargassum on the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean results in its accumulation, sometimes completely covering the shores. This not only diminishes the beauty of the pristine white sand beaches but also emits an unpleasant odor, thereby posing both aesthetic and sensory challenges. Although Sargassum’s presence does not necessarily hinder tourism, it discourages many tourists from venturing onto the beaches when it arrives in significant quantities.

While a permanent solution to the escalating Sargassum problem may be elusive, numerous ideas are being contemplated. Task forces have been assembled over the past year to address this issue, proposing concepts such as deploying naval ships to collect Sargassum at sea and utilizing it as fertilizer. Barriers are frequently employed to prevent its arrival on shore, in addition to collecting it once it does wash up.

Sargassum barriers in Tulum

Massive Arrival of 200 Tons Expected in the Battle Against Sargassum

In Tulum, a barrier spanning a length of slightly over a mile and a half is being installedThe installation commenced on May 12th, and it is projected to be completed by May 25, 2023. The barrier will extend north from Santa Fe Beach in the southern part of Tulum. It will remain in place throughout the remainder of this year’s Sargassum season, with removal scheduled for November 15, 2023.

Luxury all-inclusive resorts in the Mexican Caribbean present an excellent alternative during the Sargassum season. These establishments typically boast multiple pools within their premises, many of which offer captivating views of the Caribbean Sea. This allows visitors to relish the splendid scenery while cooling off in the pool, evading the inconvenience caused by Sargassum while still enjoying the delightful tropical weather that entices many to visit the Mexican Caribbean.

When the beaches are overwhelmed by Sargassum, there are ample alternatives to explore in and around Tulum. Visitors can immerse themselves in the exploration of ancient Mayan ruins, indulge in swimming adventures in cenotes, visit nearby Magic Towns, or spend a day at an adventure park. With the installation of the new Sargassum barrier, it is hoped that visitors will have the opportunity to relish the astounding beaches of Tulum this summer.

Anticipating the Arrival of Over 200 Tons of Sargassum in Quintana Roo

Massive Arrival of 200 Tons Expected in the Battle Against Sargassum

The Mexican Navy Secretariat (Semar), in collaboration with the Gulf and Caribbean Sea Oceanographic Institute (IOGMC), has revealed that over 200 tons of sargassum are expected to arrive in various municipalities of Quintana Roo this week. The department emphasized that the seaweed has already started washing ashore in the Northern Zone, stretching from Mahahual to the Southern region of Punta Herrero, as well as in the municipalities of Benito Juárez, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Consequently, its presence will be noticeable in the coming days.

“Based on the algal coverage in all regions of the Caribbean Sea and considering the observed currents in that area, sargassum arrival is anticipated in Benito Juárez, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Within the next few hours, we estimate approximately 27 tons will accumulate in Mahahual, around 21 tons in Xcalak, approximately 10 tons in the South and East of Cozumel, approximately 17 tons in Tulum and Xcacel, and about 12 tons in Akumal. Within the next 24 hours, Punta Herrero is expected to experience approximately 37 tons, Sian Ka’an around 30 tons, and from Puerto Aventuras to Playa del Carmen approximately 32 tons,” the report stated.

Massive Arrival of 200 Tons Expected in the Battle Against Sargassum

The Navy did not rule out the possibility of an increase in algal coverage over the coming months, as this year is expected to set a record for sargassum arrival on the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean. The most intense months are yet to come.

“Based on past observations, we anticipate a surge in algal coverage over the next few months. Currently, from Xcalak to the vicinity of Mahahual (Southern region), there are prevailing surface currents flowing North with speeds ranging from 0.35 to 0.48 m/s. From Sian Ka’an to Cancún (Northern region), the currents also flow North with speeds of 0.90 to 1.15 m/s. Additionally, there are East winds blowing at 14 to 17 knots (26 to 31 km/h),” it continued.

The alert level for estimating sargassum accumulation in the Mexican Caribbean is classified as “5,” indicating a “high” level. This means that within less than 24 hours, some beaches are experiencing accumulations of 30 to 50 centimeters in height, covering the entire beachfront.


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