Giant seaweed masses clog beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean coast

[Mexico] Authorities on Mexico’s Caribbean coast say they are redoubling efforts to remove tons of sargassum seaweed that has been washing ashore in recent weeks.

Gov. Roberto Borge said the cause of the invasion is still unknown, though it could be due to high levels of nutrients in the ocean water or changes in ocean temperatures, currents or wind patterns.

Large quantities of seaweed blanket the beach in the Mexican resort city of Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The seaweed invasion, which appears to have hit most of the Caribbean this year, is generally considered a nuisance and prompted some hotel cancellations from tourists.
Large quantities of seaweed blanket the beach in the Mexican resort city of Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The seaweed invasion, which appears to have hit most of the Caribbean this year, is generally considered a nuisance and prompted some hotel cancellations from tourists.

The state government of Quintana Roo, where the resort of Cancun is located, said there have been no reports of tourists canceling visits because of the problem.

Borge said the seaweed removal efforts will focus on much of the coast, from Holbox in the north down past Tulum to the south.

Photos issued by the Cancun city government show piles of brown seaweed on some normally pristine white beaches. By last week, the city said it had raked or shoveled up 500 cubic meters of sargassum.

A woman inspects large quantities of seaweed piling up on the beach in the Mexican resort city of Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/ Israel Leal)
A woman inspects large quantities of seaweed piling up on the beach in the Mexican resort city of Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/ Israel Leal)

Authorities have to be careful, because there are two groups of visitors they don’t want to disturb with overly aggressive removal efforts: nesting sea turtles that return to the Caribbean beaches to lay their eggs, and tourists.

Javier Rojo Gomez Beach in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere

Borge said the effort would take care not to cause erosion on the beaches, which has been a problem in Cancun in the past.

The government announced the formation of a task force of naval and environmental authorities to study the problem. Authorities are also researching ways to use or dispose of the seaweed mounds.

Workers clear Sargassum algae at Punta Xcatik Beach
Workers clear Sargassum algae at Punta Xcatik Beach

Sargassum is an algae that grows in the Sargasso Sea, a large body of warm water in the mid-Atlantic.

Officials in the Caribbean island of Barbados have also struggled with seaweed washing ashore, and large piles of sargassum washed up on the shore in Galveston, Texas, in 2014 after drifting into the Gulf of Mexico.

Javier Rojo Gomez Beach in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve coated with thick seaweed on July 17, 2015. (Photo by Manuel Balles/NurPhoto)
Javier Rojo Gomez Beach in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve coated with thick seaweed on July 17, 2015. (Photo by Manuel Balles/NurPhoto)

Photo: Tourists walk past large quantities of seaweed piling up on the beach in the Mexican resort city of Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/ Israel Leal)

View original article at: On the farm, algae may be the new corn

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