2023 Sargassum Seaweed Season in Tulum: Latest Updates

Discover the latest updates on sargassum seaweed in Tulum, Mexico. Learn about the projected arrival and intensity of sargassum season in Tulum, and the challenges faced by the tourism industry as they work to clean and manage the seaweed.

2023 Sargassum Seaweed Season in Tulum: Latest Updates
Current Information on Tulum's Sargassum Seaweed Season in 2023. Image credit: Adobe Express

For those looking to learn about the current seaweed conditions in Tulum, here is what you need to know. The collection of sargassum started earlier this year, and there are increased levels of seaweed along the coast, though it is not yet a major concern. Zofemat, the local beach management organization, is cleaning beaches daily within the Jaguar National Park and Punta Piedra in the hotel zone.

However, according to satellite monitoring from the University of South Florida, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the arrival of macroalgae is expected to increase in March. Between January and March 2021, Zofemat collected 282 tons of sargassum, while in the first quarter of 2022, they collected 404 tons, indicating a greater volume of sargassum this year.

To manage this situation, Zofemat has established strategies with the government, including placing barriers on the beaches to contain the sargassum at sea. Playa del Carmen is expected to have a greater presence of sargassum by the end of the month, and in April, the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) will provide support to manage the situation. The Cancun Hotel Association estimates that hoteliers will invest over 20 million dollars in beach cleaning efforts.

Tulum Seaweed Map

Blue - no seaweed;
Green - very low;
Yellow - moderate/some patches;
Orange - abundant;
Red - excessive amounts of seaweed.

What is Tulum Seaweed?

Tulum seaweed, also known as sargassum seaweed, is a type of brown seaweed that is commonly found in the Sargasso Sea, located in the North Atlantic Ocean. The seaweed is named after the sea and is known for its ability to form large floating mats that can be several miles long. Tulum seaweed is not harmful to humans, but it can hurt marine life and the environment.

Causes of Tulum Seaweed

The cause of Tulum seaweed is still being studied, but scientists believe that it is related to a combination of factors. One major factor is climate change, which has led to an increase in ocean temperatures and changes in ocean currents. The warming of the ocean has led to an increase in the growth of Tulum seaweed, as it thrives in warm water temperatures. In addition to climate change, nutrient pollution from agricultural and urban runoff has been identified as a contributing factor to the growth of Tulum seaweed.

Impact on the Environment

The influx of Tulum seaweed on the shores of the beach can have a significant impact on the environment. As the seaweed decomposes, it consumes oxygen in the water, leading to hypoxia, which can be harmful to marine life. The decomposing seaweed can also release sulfide, which can be toxic to marine organisms. In addition, the accumulation of seaweed on the beach can lead to erosion and damage to the ecosystem.

Impact on the Tourism Industry

The seaweed problem has also had a significant impact on the tourism industry in Tulum. The influx of seaweed on the beach has led to a decline in tourism, as visitors are deterred by the unsightly appearance and unpleasant smell of the seaweed. The tourism industry in Tulum is an essential source of income for many locals, and the decline in tourism has led to financial hardships for many businesses and individuals.

Efforts to Address the Seaweed Problem

Efforts are being made to address the seaweed problem in Tulum. The Mexican government has invested millions of dollars in research and development to find a solution to the seaweed problem. One potential solution is to collect the seaweed and use it as a fertilizer, as it is rich in nutrients that can benefit crops. Another solution is to use it to generate energy through biomass production.

Locals and businesses are also taking action to address the seaweed problem. Some hotels have hired staff to clean up the seaweed on the beach, while others have installed barriers to prevent the seaweed from washing up on the shore. Locals have also started to use seaweed as a resource, making products such as soap, fertilizer, and even beer.

Final Thoughts

Tulum seaweed is a growing environmental problem that is affecting both the environment and the tourism industry. Although the cause of the seaweed problem is still being studied, efforts are being made to find solutions to address the problem. The Mexican government, locals, and businesses are taking action to mitigate the impact of seaweed on the beach, and new solutions are being explored to use seaweed as a resource. While the seaweed problem in Tulum is still a significant concern, it is hoped that with continued efforts, a sustainable solution can be found to address the issue.

Visitors to Tulum can also play a role in mitigating the impact of the seaweed problem by practicing responsible tourism. This includes properly disposing of trash and avoiding the use of single-use plastics, which can contribute to the pollution of the ocean. By taking small steps to reduce their environmental impact, visitors can help protect the environment and contribute to the long-term sustainability of tourism in Tulum.

Data: The Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone Benito Juarez and Quintana Roo Sargasso Network