Giant seaweed bloom threatens Mexico’s beaches

Posted by Christi Nortier on 11 July 2019

The cleanup of piles of decomposing seaweed on the beaches of Mexico’s Riviera Maya continues as the record-breaking bloom, the size of Jamaica, keeps washing ashore.

While this seaweed is not unusual in the area, this extreme bloom of 20m tonnes of seaweed may be threatening Mexico’s ocean and the tourism industry which relies on it.

View this post on Instagram

The tick walls of red seaweed first started washing over the white-sand beaches of Tulum, Mexico, in 2015. It had doubled in volume since 2015, and 2019 was expected to be the worst year yet. Where was it coming from? Development in the Amazon was leaching more fertilizer into increasingly warmer oceans — maybe that was it. But some residents of Tulum, which has long attracted visitors predisposed toward the mystical, thought that Mother Nature had simply had enough… #whokilledtulum #sargassum #seaweed #tulum #vscomexico #vscobulgaria #yucatan #papayaplayaproject #papayaplaya #drone #topdown #djimavicpro2 #fromwhereidrone #travelphotography #travel #dimitarkaranikolov @tulummexico @tulum @papayaplayaproject @mexicotravel @conoce_mexico @yucatanturismo @mexico.turismo

A post shared by Dimitar Karanikolov (@karanikolov) on

View this post on Instagram

Cunde la plaga del sargazo en las playas de Tulum. Las playas de Tulum amanecieron ayer con una capa de sargazo de más de 20 metros de longitud y unos 50 centímetros de altura. Desde que el alga comenzó a llegar masivamente a costas de Quintana Roo, en 2015, nunca había arribado en tal magnitud a ese destino turístico. El alcalde Víctor Mass Tah informó que para intentar contrarrestar esta problemática, se duplicará el número de personas que se dedican a limpiar los tres kilómetros de playas públicas, pues en los días recientes se registró un fuerte incremento en la llegada del sargazo. Foto: agencia SIM Más info en el link de bio. #tulum #quintanaroo #mexico #sargazo #macroalga #mex #alga

A post shared by La Jornada (@lajornadaonline) on

The ‘Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt’ stretches for more than 8,000 km from west Africa to the Gulf of Mexico.

This seaweed is not uncommon in the Atlantic Ocean. However, the enormous quantities noted in recent years have not been seen before.

Scientists say it is becoming a yearly event. First noticed in 2011, new research using NASA satellite imagery concluded that it has appeared every year since then – and it keeps growing bigger.

Researchers have found that the bloom is at its height in the middle of the year and develops from small amounts of seaweed in the middle of the Atlantic.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzwYdyxnYG9/

It is suspected the bloom is triggered by fertilisers and deforestation byproducts being swept into the Amazon river and out into the Atlantic. There, if the sea temperature and salinity are conducive, these extra nutrients causes the seaweed to bloom.

The seaweed does provide habitat and food for fish, crabs, shrimp, turtles and birds out on the high seas. However, very thick patches can block sunlight which sink and crash on the ocean floor once they die, which is detrimental to the health of coral.

Tourists and locals alike have also been impacted by the bloom. Last month the Mexican state of Quintana Roo declared a state of emergency as a means to get funding to clean away the decomposing piles of seaweed which had washed onto its shores.

View this post on Instagram

This is the state of Tulum Beach at this moment. It seems it’s been like this for over two months. The Sargassum (Algae) destroying the beauty of what was once, one of the most beautiful coast lines in Mexico. Besides that it’s not appealing to the eye it also stinks. If you want to visit Tulum for mainly a beach vacation you should inform yourself first about the state of the beaches. They are cleaning it but it doesn’t look like they are winning the battle. 🇪🇸 Las playas de Tulum estan ya hace dos meses infectadas con sargazo. Ademas que se ve super feo también huele mal! #sargassum #sargazo #tulumbeach #paradisebeachtulum #mexicotravel #yucatantravel #cleantheseas #globalwarmingisreal #globalwarming #solotravel

A post shared by Heriberto Garcia (@hgarr_ig) on

The decomposing seaweed releases sulphur gas, which is said to smell like rotten eggs, and attracts insects.

This has caused upheaval in the local tourism industry as visitor numbers have reportedly decreased this year since the seaweed’s arrival. Local cleanup teams have been working to remove the seaweed and barriers have been set up off shore to prevent the seaweed from washing up on the beaches.

The Riviera Maya Hotel Association is assisting hotels in transferring guests to resorts not affected by the bloom while the cleanup is underway.

Image: Sargassum Science 

You may also like






yoast-primary - 1004431
tcat - Travel news
tcat_slug - travel-news
tcat2 - Travel news
tcat2_slug - travel-news
tcat_final -
Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1004431 [name] => Travel news [slug] => travel-news [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1004699 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Get the latest local and international travel news and inside stories to help you plan your trips. Come on in for the latest breaking news from around the globe. If you are curious as to what is happening travel-wise around the world be sure to checkout the travel news section. From films to new initiatives our thorough journalists will bring you the scoop. [parent] => 0 [count] => 1516 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 1004431 [category_count] => 1516 [category_description] => Get the latest local and international travel news and inside stories to help you plan your trips. Come on in for the latest breaking news from around the globe. If you are curious as to what is happening travel-wise around the world be sure to checkout the travel news section. From films to new initiatives our thorough journalists will bring you the scoop. [cat_name] => Travel news [category_nicename] => travel-news [category_parent] => 0 ) )