According to the most recent assessment from Mexico’s secretary of the navy, the Riviera Maya might witness up to 3 feet of sargassum buildup this week alone.
The 200 tons of sargassum expected to wash up on Riviera Maya beaches this week is only a fraction of the estimated 26,000 tons that are anticipated to be present in the Caribbean.
The predicted accumulation of sargassum is so severe that authorities have classified this forecast as a Category 7, meaning they expect no one to be able to use the beaches until the cleanup is complete.
Playa Del Carmen, Akumal, Punta Herrero, Mahahual and Isla Cozumel are the beaches that are deemed to be most vulnerable to this sargassum invasion. The entire Quintana Roo’ coast is preparing for the upcoming cleanup.
Although this unwanted visitor is ubiquitous in the Riviera Maya, different places are affected to varying degrees. Resorts have hired large cleaning crews to remove the sargassum each morning, usually before visitors begin their day lounging on the sand, but sometimes throughout the day.
This is one of the proactive measures the resorts are taking to try to limit the impact on visitors. However, it should be emphasized that the resorts only maintain their portion of the beach.
The bad news is that smaller hotels and hostels on the coast do not have the same financial resources to hire private companies, so cleaning staff are not available in all regions on a daily basis. So the choice of accommodation can have a direct impact on how much vacationers will enjoy the beach.
From 2011, April to August has sadly become sargassum season, although sometimes it occurs earlier, as in this season, when the beaches are already struggling with significant amounts of it.
With tourism accounting for 87% of the state’s GDP, it should come as no surprise that authorities in Quintana Roo are taking the matter very seriously. Tourists flock to the region for its typically pure white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, which are now at risk for almost half of the year.
Many initiatives have been implemented. The government has erected huge barriers at sea to divert as much sargassum as possible. The state is also deploying a number of special ships equipped with devices to capture huge fields of sargassum and move it to regions where the tides will naturally carry them further out to sea.