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Playa Del Carmen Sees 1,000 Fewer Tons Of Seaweed But Forecast Is Not Optimistic

Playa del Carmen received 9,800 fewer tons of sargassum until May 31, compared to the same timeframe in 2023. However, forecasts this year are not too optimistic.

Such a reduction was attributed to several factors, including low temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and convenient wind patterns.

Solidaridad, the municipality where Playa del Carmen is located, was one of the most affected by the macroalgae.

While there was a significant reduction of sargassum arriving on Mexican Caribbean shores last year, forecasters believe this season won’t be the same, according to their satellite-based observations.

Playa del Carmen – Coco Beach – May 2024

Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, secretary of Environment and Climate Change, reported that this phenomenon will get worse due to high temperatures.

“We are having a strong sargassum arrival. We are seeing the effect of high temperatures. In fact, we’ve recorded the arrival of over 8,000 tons of algae from January to date [May 31]. This time around is even worse because it’s spreading all over the coast,” Varguez said.

Last year, sargassum season abruptly ended in September -something unusual-, which made hoteliers and locals believe that 2024 could be a better year for the algae. But nothing could be further from the truth.

May was difficult for Playa del Carmen’s maritime community. Weather conditions and sargassum forced the port to close to small vessels for 12 days.

José Gómez Burgos, President of the Caribbean Sea Nautical Cooperative, said it was caused by a phenomenon called “Surada.” At press time, the port is open to ships and fishing activities have not been affected.

However, an exorbitant arrival of sargassum was observed on beaches in downtown Playa del Carmen and in the northern area of ​​Solidaridad during the weekend.

According to the Institute of Oceanography of the Marine Secretariat (Semar), a mass of 216 tons reached the beaches of Mahahual and several areas of Xcalak. 17 tons of algae reached the waters of Tulum and Playa del Carmen, and 24 the beaches of Sian Ka’an.

On the other hand, the northern beaches, from Puerto Morelos and Cancun to Isla Mujeres, had very low levels of algae. 

Workers at the Federal Marine Terrestrial Zone Directorate (Zofemat) have been carrying out clean-up tasks to keep coasts clean and open for beachgoers.

Toni Chaves, president of the Hotel Association of the Riviera Maya (AHRM), reported that the annual cost of sargassum cleanup exceeds $142,6182,500, affecting the competitiveness of the tourism industry.

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