April 6, 2024
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Tulum’s beaches are back! Sargassum takes a hike

The alert level for the presence of sargassum in the waters of the Mexican Caribbean has decreased from category 7 (very abundant) to category 2 (very low), according to the daily report of the Secretariat of the Navy.

According to the agency, as of March 22, the Mexican Caribbean presents an estimated amount of 6,316 tons of sargassum, that is, almost four times less than at the end of February when the volume of seaweed floating in waters near Quintana Roo was estimated at almost 27,000 tons.

The forecast also states that according to the algal coverage in all regions of the Caribbean Sea and considering the currents observed in that region, there are favorable conditions without the presence of sargassum in Isla Mujeres and with very little algal presence in the municipalities of Puerto Morelos, Benito Juarez and Cozumel.

Tulum's beaches are back! Sargassum takes a hike

However, in the course of the next 24 hours, the occurrence of sargassum is estimated for Sian Ka’an (approximately 35 tons) and from Mahahual to the south of Punta Herrero (approximately 70 tons); in the next 48 hours in the vicinity of Xcalak (approximately 30 tons).

For Tulum an approximate of 12 tons is expected and finally in the course of the next 72 hours from Akumal to Playa del Carmen an approximate of 30 tons.

Currently, from Xcalak to the vicinity of Mahahual (southern region), surface currents predominate with a northerly direction and speeds of 0.34 to 0.37 m/s, and from Sian Ka’an to Cancun (northern region), with a northerly direction and speeds of 1.11 to 1.15 m/s; with wind conditions from the northeast of 14 to 20 knots (26 to 37 km/h), which favors a lower number of sargassum.

Currently, the Navy has deployed in Quintana Roo waters a total of eleven sargaceras, four sweepers and tractors; eight collecting bands and eleven small boats. The accumulated total so far this year is 1,968 tons of sargassum.

Sargassum in Mexican Caribbean: understanding the phenomenon and its impact on tourism

Tulum's beaches are back! Sargassum takes a hike

The Mexican Caribbean is known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life. However, in recent years, a new visitor has arrived on its shores – sargassum seaweed. The arrival of sargassum has caused widespread concern among tourists, locals, and business owners alike, and has led to many questions about what it is, why it’s appearing in such large quantities, and what can be done to mitigate its impact. In this article, we’ll provide a detailed overview of sargassum, its causes, and the challenges it poses to tourism in the Mexican Caribbean.

What is Sargassum?

Sargassum is a type of brown seaweed that grows in the Sargasso Sea, a region in the North Atlantic Ocean that is bounded by four ocean currents. The seaweed is a vital habitat for many species of marine life, including sea turtles, fish, and birds. However, in recent years, large quantities of sargassum have been washing up on beaches throughout the Caribbean, including in Mexico. This has caused many concerns for tourists, business owners, and local communities, who have seen their beaches and waters transformed by the arrival of sargassum.

What Causes Sargassum Blooms?

Tulum's beaches are back! Sargassum takes a hike

The exact cause of sargassum blooms is not fully understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to their formation. These include changes in ocean currents, changes in water temperature, and changes in nutrient levels in the ocean. Some scientists have also suggested that climate change and increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be contributing to the growth of sargassum.

What Are the Impacts of Sargassum on Tourism in the Mexican Caribbean?

Tulum's beaches are back! Sargassum takes a hike

The arrival of sargassum has had significant impacts on tourism in the Mexican Caribbean. Beaches that were once pristine are now covered in seaweed, which can be both unsightly and unpleasant to walk on. The seaweed also releases a foul odor as it decomposes, which can be very unpleasant for tourists and residents alike. In addition, the presence of sargassum can deter visitors from swimming in the ocean, which can have a negative impact on local businesses that rely on tourism.

What Can Be Done to Mitigate the Impact of Sargassum?

Tulum's beaches are back! Sargassum takes a hike

Several strategies have been proposed to mitigate the impact of sargassum on the Mexican Caribbean. These include:

  1. Mechanical removal: This involves using machinery to remove the seaweed from beaches and waterways. While this can be effective, it is also costly and can be damaging to the environment.
  2. Biological control: This involves introducing natural predators or competitors of sargassum into the environment to control its growth. However, this approach has not yet been proven to be effective on a large scale.
  3. Innovative technologies: Various companies and organizations have developed innovative technologies to collect, contain and recycle the seaweed.
  4. Community cleanups: Local communities can also organize regular cleanups of their beaches and waterways, which can be an effective way to keep the seaweed under control.

The arrival of sargassum in the Mexican Caribbean has posed significant challenges to tourism, but it has also sparked a renewed focus on the importance of protecting our oceans and marine ecosystems. While there is no easy solution to the problem, it is clear that a concerted effort is needed from all stakeholders to mitigate the impact of sargassum and protect the region’s natural beauty. By working together and exploring innovative strategies, we can ensure that the Mexican Caribbean remains a world-class destination for years to come.


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