Travel insights from Travel Market Report

Quintana Roo is Now Seaweed Free, Governor Says

The beaches in Cancún and those along the Caribbean coastline of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula are now cleared of sargassum, according to Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquín González.

Joaquín said there has not been a significant resurgence of the algae in recent weeks, thanks to the Mexican Navy and President López Obrador, the Mexico News Daily reported.

“We’re waiting for more infrastructure, more boats, more barriers that will work in coordination with the navy, which has yielded good results up to now,” he said.

According to the Cancun sargassum monitoring network, most beaches reported low sargassum as of last week.

Mexican officials were concerned the influx of rotting seaweed in some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations would cause a dip in tourism, which contributes 8.7% to Mexico’s gross domestic product and is worth about $23 billion annually.

Hotel groups have also undertaken action to clean the white-sand beaches for tourists.

Grupo Xcaret, which operates Hotel Xcaret México, said it has an aerial monitoring check in place, conducted daily to determine the overnight level of sargassum accumulated along the shore. It is then collected at dawn by trained staff, who are cautious of not interfering with the marine ecosystem, and taken to Grupo Xcaret’s processing facility for composition.

Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts has put in place a non-invasive barrier system and saw "a 95% reduction" of sargassum on its Mexico properties. The system was assembled by a team of marine biologists, oceanographers, engineers and divers — and it operates with respect to the marine fauna and flora.

Caused by a surplus of nutrients being washed into rivers and flowing into the ocean, the rising nutrient and nitrogen levels promote the growth of seaweed and algal blooms. Once they wash ashore, the algae dies and starts to decompose. Toxic gases are released into the air, causing a rotting egg smell, while acid and heavy metals are left behind to make their way into the sea, altering the water’s acidity levels and further depleting oxygen.

Beyond being an eyesore and nuisance for tourists, sargassum suffocates the reef and surrounding ecosystems. The large mats have resulted in the death of different types of fish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and crabs. The most affected are lobster fishermen, who have seen a reduction in supply.

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