Costa Maya seaweed: Semar forecasts fourth 'massive' wave of sargasso in Mahahual

15/06/2021

According to the Semar, more than 3,500 tons of sargassum will arrive on the coasts of the Caribbean Sea, just when the population of Mahahual is overwhelmed in the collection, being in the middle of the season of arrival of the macroalgae. Meanwhile, the only beach tourist destination in the south of the state does not have the support of the authorities.

Officials take preemptive action for sargasso season in Mahahual. Photo: Courtesy of Ivy Romero
Officials take preemptive action for sargasso season in Mahahual. Photo: Courtesy of Ivy Romero

An immediate plan is required, with the power of decision, to preventively address this situation each season, in case of possible health problems (such as skin diseases) and to relieve the Navy of responsibility. Being in the middle of the sargassum arrival season, the work done by the community is beyond capacity, so an immediate plan is needed to avoid not only an environmental problem but also a health problem.

The information warns that at least 3,500 tons of sargassum are heading south, specifically towards Mahahual, when the sand on the beaches of this community of 1,200 inhabitants is covered by the accumulated sargassum. It is the only tourist destination in the south of the state with beaches, which today is in the middle of this environmental and soon health problem, due to the foul odors that can cause skin diseases to people who remove the seaweed in a state of decomposition.

In view of this situation, another plan is needed, since the container barriers and the operation of the sargassum vessels are not working. An immediate plan of attention, and not only to leave it in the hands of the Semar or the local committee but to propose actions as soon as possible, since we are in the middle of the arrival and soon more tons of seaweed, so the scenario on the beaches of a plague of mud and rotting is already visualized.

Sargasso and the lack of actions to control it

The Oceanographic Institute of the Gulf and the Caribbean Sea warned of a sargassum slick of some 9,600 tons that could affect the coasts of Quintana Roo from Xcalac, on the Costa Maya, to Punta Maroma, on the Riviera Maya, in the next six days.

The deputy director of the institution, José Paúl Murad explained that this volume is within the spots detected in the Caribbean Sea whose volume amounts to a little more than 22,250 tons of algae, according to satellite images from the University of South Florida. This situation has generated concern among inhabitants and businessmen of the Costa Maya since the placement of the anchors to place the containment barriers was suspended and there is no date for the restart of the work.

The excess of sargassum and the lack of actions to control it from the sea when it reaches the beaches, is generating in some points of the Mayan coast an excess of seaweed that endangers the marine fauna and the economy of the whole area. The sargassum carpets on the Mayan coast have reached up to 50 meters, in Xcalak where there is no collection of any kind this carpet of seaweed can cover more spaces.

The artisans in Mahahual have said that they urgently need shovels, rakes, boots, medicines, and basic utensils for the collection of sargassum, but to date, they have had no response to their requests. It should be noted that the sargassum is arriving but not in the same quantities everywhere, the businessmen are trying at all costs to keep their beaches clean by hiring people to clean in the mornings and afternoons.