Sargassum seaweed in the Mayan Riviera and the Caribbean

24 July 2015
Sargassum seaweed in the Mayan Riviera and the Caribbean

For vacationers who have recently visited the Riviera Maya in Mexico or the Caribbean, it is impossible not to notice the brown seaweed that is known as Sargassum that invades us now.

Sargassum comes from the Sargasso Sea off the coast of Florida since 2011 and we are seeing a proliferation of algae. It is becoming more and more visible and even harmful. Following are some explanations:

- Where does this algae come from? It comes from the northeast of Brazil, the north equatorial currents from the Atlantic zone.

- Why do algae proliferate? This type of algae has always existed, but never in such large quantities. If the source is to be analyzed, it is necessary to travel to Brazil, to the mouth of the largest river in the world: the Amazon. Its flow is 15% of fresh water during the planet. For 5 years, Brazil produced a lot of beef and poultry, promoting water pollution, and contaminating with an excess of pesticides, sewage, phosphates….etc

Brazil produces 30% of the meat in the global market. It exports in 182 countries and it provides 15 to 20% of the chicken being consumed in France!!

This contamination helps algae to form and develop. Wastewater and the sands of the Sahara beaches that lie on the other side of the Atlantic have a nurturing effect on Sargassum. But, if you also add the effects of global warming in the Caribbean waters, then we have an explosive cocktail!

-Does this algae have an an efffect on health? Yes, there is a virus in the algae-a clorovirus which can cause cognitive damage and eye disorders. Obviously these disorders are caused to people who have high exposure to the algae-those who are permanently living on the coast. Some swimming during the holidays will not have a harmful effect, the only effect will be bad odor due to hydrogen sulfide.

- What are countries doing to combat the problem? In Mexico, Martinique, and the Caribbean, the government provided the money to clean the beaches, without really addressing the underlying problem. On our Mexican coast from Cancun to Tulum, not one beach escaped the Sargassum! In the coming weeks the state should clean the various municipalities, as many travelers are reluctant to go to the Mayan Riviera or want to shorten their stay.

- What is the solution? Except that a virus may exist in the Sargassum, algae are not harmful. They might even be a good resource of income and energy; there would definitely be enough to recover and transform it. Today we know that we can produce gas as well as natural fertilizer. At the moment there is no company that uses this natural resource.

In conclusion, it is never pleasant to swim in seaweed, but this is unfortunately only the visible result of our impact on the planet. We consume more and more, without worrying about the effects on our warming planet. We find it normal to be eating animals killed on the other side of the planet, but this has a polluting effect and today we are the victims, here in Mexico. In this region where tourism is the primary economic resource, we must pay even more attention and respect to our environment! Fortunately, the Yucatan peninsula is full of beautiful places and we will always take you to heavenly places!

Mexico has sent 4,000 people to clean the beaches of the Mayan Riviera, it will also set up some type of wide net to block the algae, so no worries, Mexico pays attention to tourism, which is the biggest economic resource of the area. You can come to Playa del Carmen or Cancun without fear-the water is great!

Last updated August, 2015Below are some pictures of the beach here at Avenue 38 in the center of Playa del Carmen, without any algae as you can see. So do not fear, the beach is still beautiful!

January 2016: There is very little seaweed and the authorities have decided to clean regularly, so it is currently not a problem. The beaches are absolutely perfect!


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