Not all sargassum cleaning mechanisms have been implemented in Tulum

According to Enrique Flores, Rear Admiral of the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) said in an interview that the strategy to combat sargassum has worked, and even assured that Playa del Carmen looks enviable.

In addition to the aforementioned destination, Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel are in good condition and free of sargassum on the beaches; However, he said that in Tulum there is still a sargassum since all the cleaning mechanisms are not implemented.

The cleaning consists of three elements: the containment barrier, a sargassum extraction mechanism and one more to collect the algae that manage to pass the barrier, but in Tulum there is still no complete system, "he said

Finally, the admiral said that three sargassum ships are being built to be sent to the most affected areas of the public beaches, because those that are under concession will have to be cleaned by private individuals.

Government response

Congresswoman Mónica Almeida called on the federal government to listen to scientists and experts and generate the economic and support conditions to combat the sargassum problem on the coasts of the Mexican Caribbean.

The government has ignored to counteract this natural phenomenon, although it has been warned about the excessive increase of sargassum and the arrival of more than one million tons of this marine macroalga.

The federal legislator exhorted the authorities to listen to the scientific and academic sectors because they are the best way to confront the problem.

"It is not possible to ignore the experts in this matter or any other. They are trained to study, evaluate and generate a work plan in order to address problems of this type"

The mismanagement in the sargassum collection on the beaches of Quintana Roo affects microsystems for the reproduction of several species, such as sea turtles, crabs, and others, as well as the negative impact on the tourism sector, which afflicts thousands of families.

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How sargassum affects Tulum's image

The archaeological zone of Tulum is the third most visited in the country, below Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, who occupy first and second place, respectively.

The number of visitors who arrive at the archaeological zone of Tulum, Quintana Roo, keeps an influx of people down since last April when the ruins received a total of 264,906 vacationers.

According to Margarito Medina, director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Quintana Roo, this may be due to several factors, but one of the main ones is the recharge of seaweed to the coasts that converge with the ancient city of Maya.

"If it does affect (the sargassum), there have already been two interventions by the state authorities, along with the Navy, along with the municipality, along with the personnel of the archaeological zone, that is state, municipal and federal authorities for the cleaning of the beaches of the Tulum zone because it has evidently been affected," said the interviewee.

Although during the month of May the ruins of Tulum ranked second nationally with respect to the number of visitors, above Chichen Itza, with 168,273 people, this was not enough to exceed the number of tourists who arrived during the month of April.

Last June, the number of tourists who arrived at the archaeological zone was even lower, registering only 142,204 people; that is, 122,702 fewer visitors.

Faced with this situation, the Tourism Promotion Council of Quintana Roo (CPTQ) has chosen to modify its promotion strategy abroad, eliminating beach images and promoting alternative activities.

Dario Flota Ocampo, director-general of the CPTQ, explained that these alternative activities are focused on Mayan archeological zones, cenotes, theme parks, Mexican cuisine, shopping malls, among others.

"This is what we are already doing, in all our current communication, both in social networks and in the images we are showing, are in all the alternative activities in which is the sea, ie parks, cenotes, gastronomy, shopping," said the official.

In the case of Tulum, Flota Ocampo explained that this destination has been one of the exceptions in the elimination of beach images for tourism promotion because he recognized that one of the main attractions of the area is precisely the combination of the ruins with the Caribbean Sea.

"Undoubtedly, the image of Tulum and the image of the sea is necessary, but we are doing in proportion. We are using many more images of the alternative activities there are," he said.

Source: La Verdad

Renovare Ocean, the sargasso shoes

Renovare Ocean is a company that makes ecological shoes and since March presented a model made with sargasso.

The sargasso shoes are made in Guanajuato by the company Renovare Ocean
The sargasso shoes are made in Guanajuato by the company Renovare Ocean

Sargasso shoes are made in Guanajuato, the headquarters of the aforementioned companyThey studied sargasso in conjunction with the Center for Applied Innovation in Competitive Technologies.

The shoes have 100 grams of Sargasso on the sole; Plus five Pet bottles on the deck.

In March it was reported that they were not for sale, but that if they had a demand they could produce 20 thousand pairs a month.

In 2017, 29,898m of sargassum were removed.

Thousands of tons of sargassum in the sea avoid the photosynthesis of the coral and monopolizes all the oxygen in the water making the life of sea species harder.

Sargassum, the plague that threatens to turn Tulum into a pestilent swamp

The escalation of sargassum threatens to irreversibly damage the ecosystem of the Mexican Caribbean and turn it into a pestilent swamp.

Vacationers on the beach in Tulum. Image: Red Sargazo
Vacationers on the beach in Tulum. Image: Red Sargazo

On the Mexican beach of Tulum, about 200 meters from a pyramid that the Mayans built just where the waves break in foam, a boat lies on a thick and pestilent mantle of sargassum, whose brown color completely eclipses the white sand of the shore.

The idle boat exhibits the scarcity of activity on this beach and in others of the world famous Riviera Maya, where few tourists sunbathe, between resigned and bored, or retreat to the pools of their accommodations due to these algae, which gives off a foul odor, seriously affects the ecosystem and obviously hits tourism.

Except for those willing to swim about 50 meters offshore or those who pay a boat ride to reach clear waters, the rest of the tourists endure the scorching sun. That is better than plunging into the miasmas of the seaweed that paint the Mexican Caribbean rust, whose characteristic turquoise color is absent in this altered paradise.

"I had no idea how bad it was!" Says Chase Gladden, a 28-year-old executive from San Francisco, United States, next to the carpet of seaweed almost 10 meters wide, whose length is lost on the horizon.

The explosive escalation in the arrival of Sargassum, native to the Atlantic, threatens to irreversibly damage this ecosystem in southeastern Mexico and turn it into a pestilential swamp.

"It will make a big blow to tourism if people do not want to come here because they do not want to deal with so much seaweed," adds Gladden, who mostly regrets the smell of rotten eggs that bounces when it decomposes. Livia Vendramini, 26, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, is disappointed. "We come here to see a blue, crystalline sea, and to see this sea as (that of) a port is very sad," she says. With two friends, she was forced to leave her hotel in Playa del Carmen, where she says that the sargasso did not forgive any beach, and travel 65 km to Tulum. "We have to leave the city, come here, take a boat to go to another place to see what we wanted," she complains.

Ecological and economic disaster

Scientific evidence points out that the sargassum comes dragged by winds and currents from a new sea of ​​said seaweed, the old one is located in front of the United States, detected in 2011 in the equatorial zone of the Atlantic, between South America and Africa. There, the mouths of large rivers laden with nutrients, the remnants of human activity, desertification, and global warming, encourage its proliferation.

"It has more nutrients than the original sargasso sea, on top of that there are the problems of deforestation in Africa and South America," explains Brigitta Van Tussenbroek, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

"Everything is anthropogenic, it's not something natural", she adds about the phenomenon, which has also affected other points of the Caribbean such as Barbados, Guadalupe, and Bonaire. The Dutch scientist, with 30 years of work in the area, warns that the sargassum is accelerating changes in the ecosystem between 10 and 100 times, so urgent measures "forceful" involving the national government.

"There is hope but we do not have much time, it's a question of years, not decades," she warns. Once on the beach, the sargassum should be removed as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is broken down by bacteria that consume the oxygen in the water, killing animals that live in it, while its dark trail blocks sunlight, eliminating life from the sea floor.

In addition, it ends with the turquoise tone of the Caribbean, a phenomenon that could be irreversible because it is unknown if this ecosystem can recycle waste, explains Marta García, a Spanish scientist at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the UNAM in Puerto Morelos.

"It can become an ecological and economic disaster," says the expert. Rating agency Moody's warned this week that the phenomenon would hit hotel, airport and highway revenues and tax revenues. As a sample, it stands out the fall of 1.8% between January and April of passengers at the Cancun terminal, the second busiest in Mexico, compared to the same period of 2018.

Sargassum came to stay

About 100 km north of Tulum, in Puerto Morelos, architect Carlos Gosselin remembers dealing with devastating hurricanes and predatory fish pests that threatened this bastion of tourism. A veteran of four decades in the Riviera Maya, an emporium modeled since the 1970s by the ingenuity and ambition of Mexican businessmen and governments, Gosselin recognizes the crisis.

Sargasso "came to stay," says the hotelier, leader of the Puerto Morelos Protocol, a civil organization that implements actions to confront the phenomenon. Made up of hoteliers from Puerto Morelos, the mayor's office and key actors such as the UNAM Institute, the Protocol has made progress in monitoring and collecting the algae, and seeks to take advantage of it industrially.

Their studies determined that after the first wave in 2015, the phenomenon skyrocketed in 2018 with the arrival of 24 million cubic meters, equivalent to 3,000 football fields covered by a meter of seaweed and that the critical period runs from May to October.

They also developed an effective maritime barrier to prevent the passage of sargassum to the coast and a boat that collects, compresses and packages them at sea. Thus, 13 of the 18 km of beaches in Puerto Morelos are free of the plague, says Gosselin.

"Puerto Morelos has become a laboratory, an indicator of what can be done and what can not be done."

But the neighbors of the small municipality also fight the infestation. Dozens of them, armed with rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows, remove the sargassum from the beach next to the central plaza since dawn and until noon, a task that the city has been organizing daily since last year.

"No way, we have to give it the best attitude so that tourism continues to come," says Arlette Escudero, a 34-year-old municipal official.

Source AFP