The 2023 Sargassum season began earlier than expected, commencing in February. Traditionally, this seaweed season begins in early spring due to the rise in ocean temperature that stimulates seaweed reproduction.
Beaches most affected by high concentrations of algae include Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Sian Ka’an, and certain areas between Cancun and Puerto Morelos. However, accurately predicting which beaches will be affected and to what extent is extremely difficult, as conditions change almost daily and often without notice.
Read on for the latest information on the sargassum situation at these beaches.
Seaweed season in the Cancun area is coming to an end, most of the beaches are clean or have very small amounts of sargassum seaweed
September 20 – Tulum to divert sargassum before it reaches the beaches
Tulum Municipality President Diego Castanon has reportedly announced the new comprehensive containment plan called Tulum Against Sargassum, reports the Cancun Sun. Under the plan, local authorities will attempt to divert the algae away from the region’s pristine beaches.
Five new anti-sargassum vessels and other equipment have been delivered to Tulum. They add to the existing fleet of vessels that trap sargassum with trawl nets to prevent it from reaching the coast. “Today, we delivered five vehicles and tools to Zofemat Tulum, marking a milestone in our fight against this macroalgae,” Castanon told QuintanaRooHOY. “Our goal is to maintain beaches of quality and sustainability.”
July 18: Latest News & Photos from Quintana Roo Beaches
Latest reports from satellites suggest that Cancun and other areas of the Mexican Caribbean should have less seaweed this summer. It’s predicted that the whole seaweed season could finish earlier than usual. (Source: nitu.mx)
Quintana Roo Sargassum MAP July 8
June 12: Latest Photos and Update from Quintana Roo Beaches
By mid-October, sargassum seaweed season is expected to end on the Mexican Caribbean coast.
Update on seaweed in Cancun (September 16)
A study from the Quintana Roo Department of Navy (Semar) claims that as of this week, Sargassum seaweed would be less prevalent on the beaches in Cancun.
An investigation was carried out in collaboration with the Gulf and Caribbean Oceanographic Institut to ascertain how much sargassum might ultimately enter the Mexican Caribbean.
The lowest amounts of sargassum are frequently found on Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos, and Othon P. Blanco, with the largest concentrations being found close to the well-known beaches of Solidaridad, Cozumel, and Tulum.
The beaches of Isla Mujeres are already seaweed free. (More info)
Seaweed in the Mexican Caribbean to start decreasing soon, according to data (More info)
Latest sargassum seaweed map, September 16 (Source):
Ojeda, who recently called the problem “alarming,” said that authorities are preparing for the largest amount of sargassum observed on Cancun beaches since 2018.
“The situation in the country, as described by the official: in Isla Mujeres, there is zero sargassum; in the municipality of Benito Juárez, on the Chac Mool beach, yesterday 5 percent was detected; in Puerto Morelos, on Pelicanos Beach, 20 percent; in Playa San Martin in Cozumel, 20 percent; in the municipality of Solidaridad, El Recodo beach, 30 percent; in Playa Maya in Tulum it is where more arrivals of this algae have been reported, 40%; while in Othón P. Blanco, in El Mahahual, 15%.”
According to NBC News’ Denise Chow, a massive brown seaweed cluster spanning 5,000 miles is approaching North America, posing a potential threat to beaches across Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Although the massive collection of seaweed, referred to as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, is not a new occurrence, experts have noted its current size as particularly substantial. Furthermore, the sargassum blanket, which can be found floating across the Atlantic Ocean, is reportedly arriving at coastal regions much earlier than usual this year. Brian Lapointe, an ecologist from Florida Atlantic University, warned that this development “doesn’t bode well for a clean beach summer in 2023,” in an interview with the New York Times’ Livia Albeck-Ripka and Emily Schmall.
February 14: As Sargassum Plagues Cancun Coast, These Beaches Remain At Low Levels
Mexican Caribbean has seen an increase in Sargassum seaweed in the past few days. Beaches in the hotel zone in Cancun are still relatively clean and well-maintained but plenty of the beaches on the coast such as Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Akumal or Playacar have already high levels of seaweed.
Here is the list of beaches with the lowest levels:
Playa las Perlas
January 28: Playa del Carmen sargassum seaweed update (PHOTO & VIDEO)
Playa del Carmen’s beaches are facing an influx of seaweed, however, the cleanliness of the beaches varies depending on location and the presence of organized cleaning services.
The video and photo below are from Coco Beach in Playa del Carmen (January 28 morning).
January 20: Cancun coast received the first wave of seaweed in 2023
On January 14, the first sargassum seaweed of 2023 has been found on beaches in the Riviera Maya, including Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen, earlier than previously predicted.
The latest update on seaweed in Cancun (January 2023)
As of January 2023, all Cancun and other beaches in Mexican Caribbean are free of seaweed. The arrival of seaweed starts in March and by the end of April, it spreads all over the area. Therefore, the best time to visit is January and February. (Source: thecancunsun.com)
Sargassum Seaweed 2023 Forecast FAQs
When does the sargassum seaweed season finish in Cancun?
Sargassum seaweed season in Cancun and around Mexican Caribbean finishes in October.
Where in Mexico is not affected by seaweed?
The Pacific and Gulf coasts of Mexico are not affected by sargassum seaweed.
How long does the seaweed season last in Mexico?
Sargassum seaweed season lasts around 6 months in Mexico. It starts in April and finishes in October.
According to studies by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, sargassum was first detected on the coast of Quintana Roo in late 2014 and increased in 2015. By 2018, the volume was concerning, and then it decreased.
However, according to Ojeda, the stats projected today are much higher than at the peak in 2018.
″There is a forecast of about 32 thousand tons. We are working to prevent them from reaching the beaches and if they do, to collect them.”
So far, 9,565 tons have arrived on Mexican beaches. Authorities have collected 9,467 on the coast and 97.7 in the sea.
The government has deployed a series of measures to fight the issue, especially in Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located and which has a higher number of visitors.
The Navy operates 11 seaweed collection vessels in the area, but records show that the amount gathered at sea is decreasing year after year.
In 2020, the Navy eradicated 4% of the sargassum in the water, but 96% was removed from the beaches. Last year, the number dropped to 3% and is now at 1% in 2022. Apparently, bad weather is hampering attempts.