NEWS – Traveling to Cancun’s beaches for that much-needed R&R should make you expect to enjoy white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. But Sargassum season decided to ruin vacation plans as this smelly seaweed decided to wash up on beaches and shores.
Sickening Sargassum Scenario
Sargassum is a type of seaweed generally found floating on the ocean’s surface. Its floaty nature typically comes from its berry-like structures that fill with oxygen called pneumatocysts.
Identifying Sargassum is usually a reasonably straightforward affair. Eagle-eyed individuals will notice the plant’s leafy appendages and branches.
Although an essential element in providing energy to fish and deep-sea invertebrates, Sargassum’s leaves often leave a troublesome experience for swimmers, divers, and beach-goers. It also leaves an off-putting stench, which may spell trouble for those who want to enjoy Cancun’s beaches.
Cancun’s Sargassum Situation
Social media has been quick to document the piles of Sargassum seaweed washing up on Cancun’s beaches. The nautical plant isn’t only affecting beach-goers but nearby businesses as well.
jbaymedia, a TikTok user, shared a video that showcases the Sargassum condition in Cancun:
@jbaymedia #rivieramaya #seaweed #problem isn’t as bad as it seems on the resorts but if you don’t have someone scooping it up it can get messy #travellife #oceanlife #seaweeddance #cancun #playadelcarmen #traveltiktok ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey
In the video, the user explains that this seaweed usually appears on beaches during summer. But it's still months away from that season and the plant is now appearing on different beaches in Cancun, including in Chacmool, Delfines, Marlin, and Las Perlas.
Cancun’s local authorities use gondolas and dumping trucks to clean up the seaweed. Continuous efforts within the city’s local communities help prevent the plant from interfering with beach-goers.
Sargassum’s Extended Cancun Stay
The Oceanographic Institute of the Gulf and Caribbean Sea published an article stating their efforts to monitor Sargassum’s activity in Cancun and nearby beaches and bodies of water. The organization uses different techniques, such as taking advantage of satellite imagery, for this endeavor.
However, locals and tourists should expect the Sargassum to continue piling up on Cancun’s shores for the next few months.
Aside from the Oceanographic Institute of the Gulf and Caribbean Sea, the Quintana Roo Sargassum monitoring network also releases frequent updates on its official Facebook page. Visiting this social media portal shows users affected beaches, allowing tourists to fine-tune their itineraries when visiting Cancun.
For instance, certain beaches in Cancun have fairly low Sargassum appearances. These beaches include Bacalar, Holbox, and Costa Mujeres.
Cancun Combats Seaweed Menace
Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, director of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone, said the following in an interview highlighting the city’s Sargassum situation:
“La cobertura algal en todas las regiones del Mar Caribe y considerando las corrientes observadas en dicha región, se espera que la presencia de sargazo continúe incrementándose paulatinamente durante el mes de febrero, con tendencia a aumentar el nivel de alertamiento”
That statement translates to the director saying that the seaweed is now covering all Caribbean sea regions. He also added that organizations are now expecting a gradual rise in Sargassum activity this year.
It’s still uncertain if the Sargassum activity in Cancun will worsen throughout 2023. However, Cancun’s beaches are now on radars for major seaweed activity.