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Sargasso Monitoring Network anticipates critical season for Cancun, Riviera Maya beaches

Cancun, Q.R. — After a week of heavy rains and winds, the director of the Sargasso Monitoring Network says this year will likely be a critical season with large arrivals of seaweed. Esteban Amaro Mauricio, director of the monitoring network says he believes this year will be equal to, and possibly even exceed, the arrivals experienced in 2018.

He added that although large amounts are anticipated, not all beaches of the state will be affected.

Amaro Mauricio, who is a hydrobiologist, explained that estimates are being made according to the amount of sargassum arrival to date, noting that there seems to be a three-year cycle where every third year, the amount of seaweed volume increases significantly.

He explained that the first mass concentration to land the state’s shores was back in 2015. In 2018, the state again had an overwhelming sargassum season, which is also showing to be the case this year in 2021.

The hydrobiologist explained that the phenomenon is due to climatic changes and excessive logging of the forest and mangroves, among other things, and begins at the west coast of Africa. He says the seaweed travels the Atlantic until it reaches the Antilles where it finds conditions to develop due to all the nutrients that come from the Amazon.

“From there, driven by the currents and winds, the journey to the Caribbean begins,” he added, mentioning that it is a complex system, “which is good when it is at sea, not so good on the coast because the rotting effect creates a brown tide, which damages marine species and even corals.”

Esteban Amaro stressed that there is no reason to alarm tourists, but to properly inform them and to emphasize that not all state beaches have a sargassum problem. Where sargassum does make landfall, those beaches are swept clean of the seaweed.

Marco Antonio Loeza, municipal director of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat) for Solidaridad has said that within the next 10 days, the Secretary of the Navy will install new antisargassum barriers along Playa del Carmen beaches. He says they have already been purchased and only need to be anchored.

However in Tulum, the installation of the antisargassum barriers has been delayed due to the weather. The Secretariat of the Navy will supervise the work, but for now, it remains suspended.

On Thursday, divers arrived in Tulum to begin the installation of the seabed anchors for the barriers, but due to the bad weather, they were unable to finish. Work is expected to begin Monday as long as the weather improves.