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Mexico Gov’t Partners With Scientists to Study Sargassum In Caribbean

30 July, 2015

Mexican environmental authorities announced that the government intends to spend at least USD $9.1 million to clean up the sargassum seaweed that has washed up along the Yucatan coastline on shores in Cancun and the Riviera Maya,as well as throughout the Caribbean.

“The money will go towards hiring 4,500 temporary workers needed to free the beaches of the mounds of seaweed that have washed up on shores,” writes the Riviera Maya News. “Part of that money will [also] be used for testing whether the seaweed can be collected in the sea,preventing it from reaching the beaches.”

This move comes after reports that some tourists throughout the Caribbean have been cutting their holidays short due to the sargassum,which is not only washing up on shores in Mexico right now,but also has become a problem in other popular destinations in the region. Along the 180-kilometer stretch of pristine,white sand Caribbean beaches found in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo,the cleanup will be focused on areas around Cancun,Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres,as well as the Riviera Maya,including Playa del Carmen,Cozumel and Tulum,with efforts extending as far south as Mahuahual.

“A team of scientists from several government agencies will monitor the beaches from both the air and on land to contain the big clumps of seaweed that have been washing ashore,” writes Fox News.

According to scientists,the surprise arrival of the sargassum algae that has turned up on many Caribbean beaches this summer could have been triggered by higher nutrient levels in the ocean,as well as climate change and shifting weather patterns. Sargassum typically grows naturally in the so-called Sargasso Sea,” which is a large body of warm water located in the mid-Atlantic near the Bermuda Tirangle. Since 2011,chunks of the seaweed have been breaking free and washing up on shores throughout the Caribbean.

“The Environment Department said Thursday that while machinery may be used on some beaches,manual collection will be used in protected areas,some of which are nesting grounds for sea turtles,” writes the Associated Press.

The Mexican cleanup efforts were reportedly agreed upon at a meeting this week between Quintana Roo Gov. Roberto Borge,Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu and Environment Secretary Juan Jose Guerra.