Published On: Sun, Apr 9th, 2023

Sargassum covers more than a third of the beaches in Quintana Roo

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A total of 39 out of 100 beaches in the northern zone of Quintana Roo have high levels of sargassum on their coasts, as part of a “large stain” coming from Africa and which has reached the Caribbean Sea.

Esteban Amaro, director of the Sargasso Monitoring Network, commented that although only three beaches register levels considered “very abundant”, 13 are in the “abundant” range and 23 in the “moderate” range.

“The University of Florida itself has commented the same as the Mexican Navy, that this year is going to be a year that will break all records in terms of the biomass of algae that reach the coasts,” he said, and then recalled that even the arrival of this macroalgae to the coasts began to occur before the onset of spring.

He recalled that at the beginning of the spring season, we observe “with peaks ranging from moderate to abundant, so the quantities of sargassum that are coming out are considered important”, although the time when a greater quantity of sargassum is observed is in summer, between the months of June and August.

The interviewee even cited the warning from the University of Florida, which detected that there are 13 million tons of sargassum floating between the Caribbean Sea and the central Atlantic Ocean, of which a percentage will arrive at the Mexican coasts.

“This does not mean that all that sargassum is going to land on Mexican beaches, much of that sargassum is going to continue along, but it is possible that approximately 5 percent could land on Mexican beaches, which would be 650 thousand tons, which is still a world of sargassum”.

He also indicated that this amount will be distributed along the 900 kilometers of coastline, although he reminded that there are points where this macroalga accumulates very strongly, such as the area between Mahahual and Xcalak, as well as in the municipalities of the Riviera Maya -Tulum, Solidaridad and Puerto Morelos- are the most affected sites.

On the other hand, the beaches in the northern zone of Cancun, Holbox, and Chiquilá -both in the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas-, as well as a part of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres regularly register the low presence of sargassum, he added.

Despite this panorama, Esteban Amaro considered that, unlike other years, there have been advances in the organization to face the sargassum recale, which has allowed to act in a more agile way to collect it from the beaches.

“(This time) Zofemat (Zona Federal Marítima Terrestre) is more organized to deal with the issue. For example, before sargassum would arrive in Playa del Carmen, Cancun or Tulum, and it would take days or even weeks to remove it, and now we are seeing a tremendous immediate response. A few days ago Playa del Carmen was flooded and it practically took less than 48 hours to clean it up. The same thing happened a few days ago in Cancun”.

The interviewee added that the state government also organized a working group on sargassum, which includes hoteliers, sargassum businessmen, and academics to issue sargassum arrival alerts in advance, which allows for reducing the response and action time to clean Quintana Roo’s beaches of this macroalgae.

The Riviera Maya Times



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