Sargassum Season 2024: Mexican Caribbean Officially Announces The Seaweed Arrival

Sargassum Season: Mexican Caribbean Officially Announces The Seaweed Arrival

It’s official. Sargassum arrival season has already kicked off in the Mexican Caribbean, the country’s Secretary of the Navy has announced.

This unpleasant marine algae drifts on the ocean surface gathering on coastlines mostly across Mexico, Texas and Florida between March and October every year.

Coco Beach – Playa del Carmen – March 22, 2024

Being now a recurrent phenomenon, Mexican authorities develop cleaning and containment strategies and allocate national and local funds to purchase anti-sargassum vessels and cleaning machinery and hire cleaning personnel, even months before the sargassum season starts.

Here is how officials and tourism industry leaders plan to keep beaches as pristine as possible this year.

For this season, authorities are installing 8,650-meter-long ocean barriers in Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Mahahual. 

Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, as well as Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, have invested in heavy machinery such as “sweepers, amphibious belts, compact loaders” and other vehicles to quickly collect and get rid of the algae. 

This week, 22 medium-size Navy vessels will join the containment fleet made up of 11 coastal sargassum ships and the oceanic vessel called “Natans.” Such a marine force is operating in multiple municipalities.

In addition to the aforementioned strategies, 340 technical-scientific personnel will be carefully monitoring the entire operation to ensure its success.

Authorities have acknowledged efforts made by state, non-governmental and private organizations and civil society to make possible the deployment of such a large-scale operation so the destination can keep offering tourists world-class beaches.

Some parts of the coast lack management for cleaning personnel

This video showcases cleaning personnel moving seaweed back into the sea, instead of cleaning it.

Massive reduction of seaweed in the first 2.5 months of 2024 

The amount of sargassum washing ashore each season depends on a variety of environmental factors.

In good news for holidaymakers, sargassum arrival has experienced a significant reduction when compared to previous years. 

Let’s review the numbers. 1000 tons of sargassum seaweed arrived to Tulum, Cobá, Playa del Carmen, Tancah and Pole beaches in the first two months of 2024.

This represents a reduction of 800 tons over the same months in 2023. 

Both authorities and tourists have widely shared on social media pictures of almost sargassum-free beaches. However, be reminded that sargassum season has just officially started this week and things can change.

Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, Secretary of Sustainable Environment and Climate Change of Solidaridad, explained that elevated temperatures, strong swells and an excess of nutrients in the ocean massively increase sargassum reproduction.

This year, she says, “We have had low temperatures, thus the arrival has been insignificant, we are talking about 1,084 tons, when last year we were already at 1,800.”