Seaweed Alert: 5,000 Square Kilometers Of Sargassum Heading To Mexican Caribbean

Floating about 100 km east of the Guanaja and Roatan Islands, the Sargasso Monitoring Network of Quintana Roo has detected another massive amount of sargassum seaweed. The Mexican state on the Yucatan Peninsula is home to famous beaches such as the resort cities of Cancun and Cozumel and the boho-chic beach destination, Tulum. 

Due to the strong east-to-west flowing winds, the monitoring network is anticipating that this mass of 5,000 km2 (3,100 mi2) will hit the waters of the Mexican Caribbean in the coming weeks. They expect that the mass will arrive in waves hitting mainly in the Southern Zone of the State, in about two weeks.

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This comes after approximately 135 tons were expected to wash ashore on the tranquil waters of the Mexican Caribbean in mid-April. In total, this year there is expected to be between 200 and 300 thousand tons of sargassum washing on the coasts of the Mexican Caribbean according to the Sargassum Monitoring Network.

Seaweed on the beach in Playa del Carmen (MAY 11, 2024)
Source: Traveling Lifestyle

The rotting, stinking algae is composed of gas-filled structures that keep the brown seaweed buoyant and make its way to all Caribbean islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and Southeast Florida. When washing ashore, not only does it stink, but it is not advised to swim next to it as it can cause the skin to turn red and into an itchy rash.

While it is harmful to humans, the seaweed helps with shoreline stability and is home to many marine species and the algae helps with erosion and provides beach plants with nutrients.

Along with the Mexican Caribbean, the massive amounts of sargassum have impacted other destinations in the Caribbean region, such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and even the Florida Peninsula.

In the Dominican Republic, hoteliers and local authorities are cleaning beaches every morning and installing ocean barriers as sargassum peaks between May and August on the country’s shores.