Latest Playa del Carmen seaweed update for 2022

The most recent information regarding the seaweed conditions in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. Data, cleaning efforts, and an anticipated amount of sargassum

Latest Playa del Carmen seaweed update for 2022
The municipal government reports that at El Recodo beach, seaweed cleaning works are ongoing. Photo by Francisco Y Alex Barba

With the passage of Hurricane Fiona, sargassum in Playa del Carmen has reached its minimum, as it has been moving the seaweed towards the Gulf of Mexico and away from the tourist destinations of Quintana Roo. According to the monitoring of the Mexican Navy Secretariat (Semar), the arrival of sargassum in Playa del Carmen, at least for this month, will be minimal, so the beaches in the area will not present a massive landfall.

"Hurricane Fiona category 1, will continue to cause changes in the structure of currents in the Caribbean Sea, so it is expected to continue reducing the contribution of sargassum to the Mexican Caribbean, as well as a gradual decrease in the arrival to Mexican beaches," said the Semar.

Last week, the arrival of 42,800 tons of seaweed was forecast for the entire coast of Quintana Roo, a 48% decrease from respect to what was collected during the first week of September, according to Sipse.

As predicted by the University of South Florida and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), sargassum levels in the Mexican Caribbean coasts have decreased in September compared to August, one of the strongest months of this season.

The Sargasso Monitoring Network of Quintana Roo, for example, reported for this Saturday, September 17, 5 beaches without sargassum, 40 with low, 15 with moderate, 10 with abundant, and another 10 with excessive sargassum, although the latter are on the east coast of Cozumel.

In addition to this, anchorages and the collective effort carried out by civil society and private initiatives to continue with the work of collecting sargassum and cleaning the beaches, to face the massive arrival of sargassum.

The good news is that the seaweed arrival season in Playa del Carmen will end at the end of September.

The work of 180 people who collect sargassum manually every day, achieving the collection of 300 tons per day, which adds up to a total of just over 18,400 tons this year, in whose collection has also participated the citizens and the business sector with the implementation of specialized machinery, two sargassum trawlers and anti-sargassum lines, which currently consist of 1,609 linear meters.

Hoteliers follow up on seaweed behavior

While attending to the massive arrivals of sargassum on the coasts of the northern zone of Quintana Roo, the hotel sector is maintaining active protocols for the hurricane season, said Jesus Almaguer Salazar, president of the Hotel Association of Cancun, Puerto Morelos & Isla Mujeres, who acknowledged that seaweed is still arriving at the coasts, so they continue to implement cleanup mechanisms.

In the daily report of the Sargasso Monitoring Network of Quintana Roo, on Wednesday, June 8, there are eight points of critical algae recale, most of them located in the Riviera Maya, among them Punta Esmeralda, El Recodo (where the situation is critical), Akumal and Bahia Principe. In the case of the hotel zone of Cancun and Isla Mujeres, the arrival of algae remains very low (green) to moderate (yellow).

"Physically the sargassum is arriving, already in small quantities, I come from Puerto Morelos and they are working, the Navy is working on it. According to what we are told, the Navy has 11 sargassum boats, and it has provided five land collection vehicles, in fact in Puerto Morelos the people from the association reported the arrival of one more vehicle, the barriers were placed, and there is only one more stretch to be placed, but what we saw is that there is less affectation", informed the leader of Cancun's hoteliers.

In Playa del Carmen, the most critical point in the arrival of sargassum is El Recodo, where despite the presence of workers and machinery for cleaning, the beach is permanently covered with sargassum.

Along with the cleaning and preventive measures, the sector has maintained the information campaign showing daily how the beaches are, so that visitors have the opportunity to know which ones they can go to without facing sargasso, so they have not faced cancellations or negative impact.

In the case of Playa del Carmen, the municipal president Lili Campos emphasized that there will be a meeting in the next few days with state and federal authorities, as well as businessmen interested in the sargasso issue, because "we need to join efforts, wills so that we can take care of it".

Tourists buy fewer tours in Playa del Carmen due to sargasso

As a result of this situation, tourist service providers are having difficulty boarding their boats. Yesterday morning, members of the tourist cooperative of the Caribbean Sea reported that tourists are taking their time to hire their services because some think that there is also seaweed offshore when the arrival in high quantities only occurs on the beaches.

The putrid smell that the sargassum gives off when it decomposes was once again perceived around the central beaches of Playa del Carmen, where tourist service providers continue to complain. This time of the year is when more seaweed arrives on the coast of the municipality of Playa del Carmen because the winds from the north decrease and the currents from the southeast intensify, the area where the large patches of seaweed come from.

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 of 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", which is 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 greater, however, it can be emphasized that no one has achieved as much progress as Mexico in the fight against this seaweed.