They say “necessity is the mother of all Invention,” and that is certainly proving to be true when it comes to how beaches in Mexico’s Riviera Maya are combatting the sargassum seaweed problem, with the celebrated local fishing village of Puerto Morelos leading the charge. The Mexican Federal Government is also busy working out a course of action and has assigned massive resources to remove sargassum from the beaches of the Riviera Maya and throughout the state of Quintana Roo.
Meanwhile, a group of scientists from the Ocean and Limnological Sciences Institute at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM), hotel owners and authorities from the Reefs of Puerto Morelos National Park have activated a protocol to place barriers and collect the sargassum while it is still out in the open Caribbean Sea, so it can be collected, compacted and reused.
“Hotel groups and coastal authorities aim to give value to a plant that now poses a threat to the tourism industry and create a business model for the development of a bio-industry with headquarters in the region”, writes the Yucatan Times.
According to the report, this so-called “Puerto Morelos Protocol,” will include a variety of new “sargassum industrialization businesses“ that will operate on site and build walls out of compressed sargassum, as well as water heaters, plates, vases and even railway tiles for the Mexican government’s Maya Train project. This initiative is currently focused on beaches in the Riviera Maya that are located around 15 different hotels that have all decided to tackle the environmental challenge head-on, covering 28 kilometers of Mexican Caribbean coastline, with hopes to expand in the immediate future.
The seaweed-like algae known as sargassum started showing up at beaches in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres during the hottest summer months in 2011 and made major appearances again in 2014 and 2015. It has always been present in the Atlantic Ocean, but in the last few years it’s been showing up on more South Florida and Caribbean beaches and in larger amounts. While not overtly dangerous or toxic to people, sargassum can obstruct beach use and get smelly if not dealt with right away, as well as trap debris and play host to biting insects like sea lice. To date, no one knows exactly why sargassum is venturing into previously uncharted territory, but thankfully algae blooms have not been an annual occurrence.
Do you have questions about sargassum seaweed in Mexico? Post them in the comments!
Want to know more about Mexico’s magical Riviera Maya region? Check out Off the Beaten Path: 5 Fun Activities in Mexico’s Riviera Maya and make plans to come visit us soon!