April 6, 2024
Today´s Paper

Tulum prepares for the installation of the first anti-sargassum barriers

Department of the Navy personnel have reviewed the buoys for the installation of an anti-sargassum barrier on the coasts of this municipality, which should take place in the next few days.

The barrier was brought yesterday so that it was spread on the beach at the height of Santa Fe before being installed in the sea.

Alonso Gutiérrez Sánchez, boatman at the beach of Santa Fe, explained that the Navy plans to divert the sargassum to the north and south, where it has collection points.

“We hope this works because the strongest sargassum season is coming up, summer is approaching, when there will be more sargassum,” he said.

Sargassum season runs from April to August, the hottest months of the year when sargassum is more likely to reach the shores of the Mexican Caribbean.

Sargassum: a nightmare from which we have not yet awakened

Tulum prepares for the installation of the first anti-sargassum barriers

Sargasso in the Mexican Caribbean has become a nightmare. The removal of the algae that have accumulated on some beaches of the Riviera Maya is complicated, not only because of the nauseating odor, but also because they represent a latent danger to the health of the workers who deal with the mountains of algae.

This happens when the sargassum decomposes and begins to release hydrogen sulfide. This gas is produced in very small quantities and causes discomfort primarily because of its foul odor, reminiscent of rotten eggs. It can also affect workers with respiratory problems who remove the sargassum with rakes, under intense heat and without masks.

Unfortunately, this year 2022 is becoming the year in which the seaweed has accumulated the most on the paradise beaches of Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Xcalak; it has even broken the record set in 2018.

Tulum prepares for the installation of the first anti-sargassum barriers

A 2019 article in the Journal of Travel Medicine includes a worrisome warning, “Chronic exposure to these gasses can lead to conjunctival and neurocognitive symptoms such as memory loss and balance disorders, as well as nonspecific symptoms such as headache, nausea, and fatigue.”

For its part, the Florida Department of Health says that “hydrogen sulfide should not affect health in places like beaches where large amounts of air can dilute it.” In any case, according to the data presented by the specialists, the sargassum problem does not affect tourists as much as the workers who remove it, but in the end both have a hard time.

Even the visitors could find themselves in a very risky situation, because if they try to swim on the desired beaches, the algae accumulated in the water can often contain hydrozoans, a relative of the aquatic eaters.

Tulum prepares for the installation of the first anti-sargassum barriers

This information comes from Ligia Collado-Vides, a marine botanist at Florida International College who specializes in macroalgae such as Sargassum. “If you spend a lot of time in contact with Sargassum, you can suffer many, many stings from hydrozoans, which are toxic,” she said.

The amount of sargassum is already claiming its first victims: people who live primarily off tourism. Hundreds of thousands of people have moved to the coast in recent years in search of better jobs, but some are already considering leaving the island because of the uncertain situation. In the last few years alone, the coast suffered a decline in tourist numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic, but tourism did not stop because Mexico never imposed restrictions and Americans kept coming.


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