Sargassum season has begun along Mexico’s Caribbean coast and is causing headaches for hoteliers and the tourism industry in general. For the past decade, smelly and unsightly algae have stained the famous turquoise waters brown and clogged the famous white sand beaches at this time of year.

In 2020, when tourism was temporarily halted due to the then widespread COWID-19 pandemic, the issue of sargassum took a back seat and was not much talked about. This year, as many people leave their homes and finally go on vacation, experts are once again studying the macroalgae phenomenon and looking at how to contain the vicious brown tide.


Current trend

Riviera Maya News reports that Carlos Joaquin, governor of the state of Quintana Roo (a state on the Yucatan peninsula that is home to popular destinations like Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen), has announced how much sargassum is expected to be in 2021.

Sargassum strategy coordinator and Secretary of the Navy Vice Admiral Cesar Gustavo Ramirez Torralba said the amount of sargassum reaching the Quintana Roo coast over the next two weeks will be about the same or perhaps slightly smaller than last year.

After huge masses of brown macroalgae choked the Mexican-Caribbean coast in 2019, authorities began taking precautions to prevent them from coming ashore, erecting barriers around the waters of popular beaches to remove debris.

Torralba said that currently 9,320 meters of containment barriers are being placed at the beaches of Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad, Tulum and Maahual and Hcalac, while on the coast at the latter two locations moderate rainfall has already occurred.

Even the Mexican Navy has been asked to participate in this venture by building vessels specifically designed to collect sargassum from the sea. Torralba said that for this purpose 11 vessels will be deployed in the shallow waters off Benito Juarez (Cancún), Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen), Tulum and Oton P. Blanco (Mahahual, Hcalac).

The ocean liner will also help in efforts to remove huge mats of Sargassum from the ocean, sailing from one area to another depending on where the highest concentrations of algae are found. The Quintana Roo Sargassum Monitoring Program will also conduct regular overflights of the coast to monitor the kelp.

frequently asked questions

At what time of year is kelp bad in the Riviera Maya?

Forecast of the kelp season in Mexico for 2020. In Mexico, the season for Sargassum seaweed usually lasts from May to October each year. If you travel to the Caribbean coast of Mexico outside of this period, you can generally expect large masses of algae on the beaches.

Are algae still bad in the Riviera Maya?

While it’s true that sargassum washed up on some of Mexico’s most famous beaches in 2019, there are still plenty of beautiful places to swim in the Riviera Maya and around the country. Sargassum, a type of seaweed that floats on the surface of the ocean, is a normal part of the ocean’s ecosystem.

Does Cancun still have an algae problem?

Its presence has increased since 2011, culminating in a government strategy in 2019 to tackle the problem. The Sargassum Algae Monitoring Network in Cancún has set up a traffic light via Facebook to determine the presence of algae in the area. … No Sargassum for now, small specks far away.

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