Officials Raised Sargassum Alert For Cancun And The Rest Of The Mexican Caribbean

Officials Raised Sargassum Alert For Cancun And The Rest Of The Mexican Caribbean

Mexico has elevated its sargassum alert from one, “very low” to two, “low,” for the first time in months, due to a large mass of seaweed approaching its Caribbean coasts.

A few days ago, over 120 tons of sargassum impacted Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel beaches. Over the next few weeks, Playa del Carmen will receive up to 300 tones per day.

Northeastern winds on the Caribbean Sea produced by a cold front from a few days ago had kept sargassum at bay. 

However, an anticyclone plus new southeastern winds combined with higher temperatures will inevitably attract more sargassum, according to the Oceanographic Institute of the Gulf and Caribbean Sea.

We know from experience that higher temperatures are correlated to the quantities of sargassum that will arrive. So, we are prepared to increase the collection, because from today the arrival will definitely begin to intensify,” said María de Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, Secretary of Sustainable Environment and Climate Change of Solidaridad.

The amount of seaweed washing ashore depends on multiple human factors as well as unpredictable weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean.

This time around, sargassum volumes have seen a reduction. In the first two months of the year, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Tancah, Cobá and Pole beaches collected 800 tons less than in the same timeframe in 2023. 

Coco Beach, Playa del Carmen – April 19, 2024
Source: Traveling Lifestyle

But the government won’t let its guard down. The Mexican Navy, along with State and private organizations, have geared up to combat sargassum months before the season began.

Cleaning heavy machinery and special vessels have been purchased to help the army of staffers who collect the seaweed right on the beach.

But that’s not all. Since April 1, the Navy has also been installing 8,600 meters of barriers to collect seaweed in the sea before it washes up on Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and other Caribbean beaches, said Admiral Rafael Ojeda.

Regarding Operation Sargasso, it began on April 1. We have four sweepers, 22 small vessels, 11 sargaceras, a sargacero ocean vessel, eight compacting band machines, and barriers,” said Admiral Ojeda.

Playa del Carmen beach after morning clean up (April 19, 2024)
Source: Traveling Lifestyle

Although beachgoers can find sargassum all year long, the arrival season as such, typically goes from April to August.

This seaweed is no longer a merely aesthetic issue. According to studies, its unusual overproduction is wreaking havoc on the Mexican coral barrier and destroying vital nurseries for the conservation of marine species. 

While sargassum can mess up with your Instagram pictures, rest assured that Mexican authorities are working non-stop to provide you with the best beach experience possible while you take in the sun, gastronomy, and culture of this incredible destination.