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Cancun beaches recovering after seaweed invasion

The beaches of Cancun and the Riviera Maya are getting back to their normality thanks to a beach recovery plan and the efforts of hundreds of temporary workers who are cleaning the beaches daily, but what is seaweed and why invaded our beaches?

The sargassum or seaweed is not a waste, it is not dead seaweed that end up in the beaches like last destination. It is a entire ecosystem forming floating marine weeds capable to transform the view across the entire coast of the Caribbean Sea

A beach with seaweed is not a dirty beach, the seaweed serves to fix the sand in the beaches and to form the dune, which serves as natural barrier against hurricanes.

The problem was that the seaweed quantity is atypical. In accordance with some investigations of the possible causes that generate this phenomenon are: Increase in nutrients in the sea, warming ocean temperatures and changes in the ocean currents due to climate change.

The seaweed is not poisonous or harmful for the health, more nevertheless esthetically it is seen very badly and obstructs the process of spawning and nesting of the marine turtle, since it represents an obstacle so that it goes so far as to the beach to spawn.

This was one of the causes for which the cleanliness of the beaches was slow, because in the areas where there were big seaweed concentrations only spades, rakes and barrows were used to withdraw, it since we are in a wonderful and intense period of nesting of marine turtles and international agreements they prevent from interfering machinery weighed in the areas where it happens.

Also to assure that it does not happen again, Government and tourism officials and local institutions are now in contact with experts from Texas A&M University who are working with NASA to use satellite imagery to track the floating patches of seaweed as they are move through the Caribbean, the Yucatan Channel and the Gulf of Mexico. With more information they can forecast when larger patches of seaweed are approaching the coast and can plan accordingly. This project also monitors the sargasso situation in the Caribbean islands, from Grenada and Barbados to Puerto Rico.

In another initiative, the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi is collecting reports from all over the Caribbean. Using the information they receive from different parts of the Caribbean, the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, satellite imagery and the movements of marine currents they can identify Sargassum source areas, track the floating seaweed and try to understand why it is reproducing so quickly.

Today many beaches are free of seaweed and other are in a cleaning process in order the tourism can come and enjoy the majestic sight of the Caribbean, crystalline sea and turquoise waters.