Current Cancun Seaweed Status and Beach Conditions
Learn about the problem of seaweed (sargassum) in Cancun, Mexico, and the efforts being made by the city and local businesses to remove it and prevent it from washing ashore. Stay informed on the latest Cancun seaweed conditions, updates, and maps.
If you're looking for current seaweed conditions in Cancun, the Public Works and Services Department of Benito Juárez is actively working to minimize the impact of macroalgae on the beaches.
The department is increasing its workforce and carrying out maintenance in the mornings and afternoons. Director Salvador Diego is coordinating efforts with the Federal Maritime-Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat), which has around 120 people working on the public beaches.
Zofemat is also acquiring equipment such as sweepers and tractors to control the sargassum and support the Navy's efforts. The municipality has a disposal site in Puerto Morelos for the collected seaweed, where it is treated to avoid environmental and health hazards. The investment in equipment is made with funds from the Environmental Sanitation Law and Zofemat resources.
Additionally, the garbage collection service is being considered to provide a service for the integral collection of sargassum. The collection by company in charge of garbage collection would be at first a pilot program, and the decision to hire the company instead of leasing more machinery will depend on the analysis of the pilot program's efficiency.
Current Cancun Seaweed Conditions and Map
Blue - no seaweed;
Green - very low;
Yellow - moderate/some patches;
Orange - abundant;
Red - excessive amounts of seaweed.
Every day, in coordination with the beach cleaning brigades, the certified beaches are cleaned of seaweed in Cancun.
When Does Cancun Seaweed Season Start?
Cancun seaweed season typically begins in May and lasts through October. During this time, the city experiences an influx of seaweed, called Sargassum, which originates in the Gulf of Mexico and is carried by ocean currents to the shores of Cancun. The seaweed can produce a strong, unpleasant odor and can make the beaches and waters less appealing to visitors. The city and local businesses work to remove the seaweed and prevent it from washing ashore, but it continues to be a significant problem during the summer months.
What Causes Cancun Seaweed?
Seaweed is a natural occurrence in the ocean, and in small amounts, it is beneficial to marine life as it provides food and habitat. However, in recent years, the amount of seaweed washing up on Cancun's shores has increased significantly. There are several causes for this phenomenon:
The warming of the oceans due to climate change has led to an increase in seaweed growth. The warmer waters and higher carbon dioxide levels promote the growth of seaweed, which can lead to large blooms.
Nutrient pollution is another significant factor contributing to the growth of seaweed in Cancun. The excessive nutrients in the water come from various sources such as sewage, agricultural runoff, and industrial waste. These nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, act as fertilizers, promoting the growth of seaweed.
Natural ocean currents
The ocean currents play a vital role in the movement of seaweed. The sargassum seaweed, which is the type commonly found in Cancun, originates from the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic. The seaweed then gets carried by ocean currents toward the Caribbean, including Cancun.
Impact of Cancun Seaweed
The excessive amount of seaweed washing up on Cancun's shores has several impacts, affecting the environment and the tourism industry.
The excessive amount of seaweed can have a significant impact on marine life and the environment. When seaweed decomposes, it consumes oxygen, creating dead zones in the water. These dead zones can harm marine life, leading to a decline in fish populations and other marine organisms.
Cancun is a popular tourist destination, and the excessive seaweed washing up on its beaches has a significant impact on the tourism industry. The seaweed affects the aesthetic appeal of the beaches, making them less attractive to tourists. Furthermore, the seaweed can make swimming and other water activities unsafe, deterring tourists from visiting.
Management of Cancun Seaweed
Several efforts are being made to manage Cancun's seaweed problem.
One of the most common methods of seaweed removal is manual removal. This involves physically removing the seaweed from the beaches using machinery and hand labor. This method is effective, but it is also time-consuming and costly.
Seaweed barriers are another method of managing Cancun's seaweed. These barriers are floating structures placed in the water to prevent the seaweed from reaching the shore. The barriers can be effective, but they can also have unintended consequences, such as altering the natural flow of ocean currents.
Chemical treatment involves using herbicides to kill seaweed. This method is effective, but it can also harm other marine life, making it a controversial method of seaweed management.
Research and development
Researchers are working on developing new methods of managing Cancun's seaweed. One method being researched is the use of seaweed as a biofuel. Harvesting the seaweed and converting it into biofuel, could potentially be a sustainable way of managing the seaweed problem.
Cancun's seaweed problem is a reminder of the critical importance of preserving the health of our oceans and the environment. As travelers, we have a responsibility to consider the environmental impact of our choices, such as supporting sustainable tourism practices and reducing waste. As individuals, we can also take small actions, such as properly disposing of waste and reducing our carbon footprint, to help protect the marine ecosystem and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Cancun's seaweed problem is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. While there is no single solution, ongoing research, and the development of innovative solutions, along with the reduction of nutrient pollution, can help to manage the seaweed problem while also preserving the environment and sustaining the tourism industry. Ultimately, it is a shared responsibility to protect and preserve our oceans and the environment for future generations.
Data and sources: The Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone Benito Juarez, Quintana Roo Sargasso Network and Observatorio Ciudadano Sargazo