2023 Sargassum Seaweed Season in Playa del Carmen

Stay informed about the 2023 sargassum seaweed season in Playa del Carmen. Learn about the expected impact on the coastlines and other areas. Understand the causes and effects of sargassum and the efforts being made to manage it.

2023 Sargassum Seaweed Season in Playa del Carmen
No seaweed in sight in the Playacar area in Playa del Carmen. Credit: Playa Riviera

The coastal areas of Quintana Roo in Mexico are facing a large influx of sargassum, a type of brown seaweed, in 2023. The seaweed is expected to primarily impact the coastlines of Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos. Esteban Amaro Mauricio, head of the Sargasso Monitoring Network of Quintana Roo, has said that the seaweed season in Playa del Carmen has increased by at least two months this year due to the presence of large "islands" of seaweed in the Caribbean Sea. This influx is expected to have a moderate to strong effect on the coasts of several areas in Quintana Roo for up to 72 hours. Efforts are being made to remove the seaweed and predict its movements through monitoring.

Esteban Amaro Mauricio, who is in charge of the Sargasso Monitoring Network of Quintana Roo, said that this means that the seaweed season in Playa del Carmen has increased by at least two months this year. He said that this is because there are many "islands" of seaweed in the Caribbean Sea, some of which are up to 40 kilometers long, which are causing the seaweed to move faster.

In this way, he said that this phenomenon is likely to have a moderate to strong effect on the coasts of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, the east coast of Cozumel, Mahahual, and Xcalak for up to 72 hours.

"Since yesterday, there have been landfalls in Tulum and Solidaridad, but the Directorate of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat) was working due to the alert, and the sargassum was removed. "We are still expecting cold front number 23 to arrive, and hopefully that will drive the sargassum away from the coast," he said.

According to the expert, the strip of seaweed is between five and 10 kilometers from the coast. Around 320 kilometers of the state's coastline were affected by the landfall.

The director of the monitoring network pointed out that the sargassum comes from the Sargasso Sea, is brought by the Caribbean current from the arc of the Antilles, passes through Jamaica, and then reaches the entity.

The sargassum started to land yesterday because the wind was blowing from east to west. Cancun was one of the places where there were the least algae, but the algae are expected to stay for the rest of the week.

In addition, Amaro Mauricio mentioned that there may be new landfalls in the following weeks, but these will be of medium to low intensityand the point at which they landfall will vary. Only monitoring can help authorities predict where the algae will fall.

"There is no alert recommendation for bathers; it is just a matter of being attentive to the communications." "Due to the intensity of the arrivals, they can be collected the same day they arrive, and it is expected to be strong until May or June," he concluded.

Playa Del Carmen Seaweed Map

Green - no seaweed/clean beaches;
Yellow - moderate/some seaweed patches;
Orange - abundant seaweed volumes;
Red - excessive amounts of seaweed.
Source: Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone Directorate of Solidaridad

Below is today's Playa del Carmen Seaweed Semaphore so you can choose the best beach option for you.
Every day the cleaning crews are in charge of keeping the beaches clean, they sift with machinery to guarantee clean, beautiful, and safe beaches in Playa del Carmen.

A cold front leaves sargassum in Playa del Carmen

In the last few days, there have been a few instances of sargassum washing up on Playa del Carmen's beaches. As a result, the beach cleaning staff has once again stepped up their efforts to clean the coasts.

In coordination with the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat), sargassum is removed daily from the beaches of this tourist destination. "From 6:00 a.m., Zofemat crews go to the 21 beach cleaning points to remove the sargassum that washes up on the coasts," said Adrián Medina, general coordinator of maintenance, preservation, and cleaning of the beaches.

"We have 10 to 15 people per point; depending on the arrival, we move the personnel." This month, red algae and sargassum begin to arrive, but it is unusual for them to arrive in large quantities. "Right now, they're arriving in large quantities in one or two days, and thalophytes will arrive later," Medina explained.

Do you know what sargassum is?

Sargassum is a brown seaweed of the genus Sargassum. It can be seen floating on the surface of the ocean. It is composed mainly of two species, S. natans, and S. fluitans. It serves as an important habitat for many marine species, providing food, shade, and shelter for fish, shrimp, crabs, and turtles.

This massive arrival is caused by multiple factors such as the increase in nutrients, water temperature, marine currents, and winds. Atypical quantities of seaweed called sargassum have arrived on the different beaches of the state of Quintana Roo.

One of the causes of this phenomenon has been proposed that it originated from the detachment of aggregations of this species in the "Sargasso Sea", a region of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Sargassum comes from Africa and reaches the part of the Amazon where it begins to nourish, rapidly increasing its volume, and then continues advancing until it reaches the beaches of Playa del Carmen.

The seaweed problem is not exclusive to the state, it is a natural phenomenon present in several parts of the world and even in several areas its arrival is more significant, however, it can be emphasized that no one has achieved as much progress as Mexico in the fight against this seaweed.