Sargassum is still washing up on the beaches of Quintana Roo and the invasion is expected to continue intermittently until the beginning of August, according to the state government.
Subtropical Storm Alberto left tonnes of the brown seaweed on beaches in seven municipalities of the Caribbean coast state in late May, to which authorities responded with a federally-funded 62-million-peso (US $3.3 million) removal project.
Clean-up efforts, carried out by hand and with the help of light machinery, removed 13,000 cubic meters of sargassum between June 22 and July 6 but after some respite last week, more sargassum is now arriving.
“Last week was very quiet. This week we have a bit more sargassum again and we will probably have this pattern sporadically throughout the month of July and maybe early August, according to the satellite images we have,” state Tourism Secretary Marisol Venegas told the newspaper Reforma.
Venegas said that a report by the University of South Florida indicated that the masses of seaweed currently afflicting the Quintana Roo coast form in the north of Brazil before moving northwards through the Atlantic Ocean to Mexico.
Former Cancún Hotels Association president Carlos Gosselin said that “practically the entire Caribbean is contaminated by sargassum.”
He told Reforma that authorization is being sought to place barriers in the sea to prevent the seaweed from washing up on beaches, adding that the large quantities that have been arriving recently are “atypical.”
Fernando Orozco, director of Tulum National Park, said there are machines that have the capacity to remove sargassum from the sea before it reaches the shore but authorities have not yet approved them for use.
Apart from sullying the appearance of beaches, sargassum also emits a foul odor when it decomposes, meaning that it is a double whammy for Quintana Roo’s tourism sector.