Cancun, Q.R. — Cancun has been the hardest hit in the region with the endless arrival of sargasso along its beaches.
Alfredo Arellano, Secretary of Ecology and Environment, says that they have 51 crew members out removing the sea weed from the Cancun beaches on a daily basis. Cleaning crew are utilizing everything they can including tractors, backhoes and wheelbarrows to ensure the 5,000 linear meters of beach are free of sargasso.
He explained that of the 717 tons of seaweed collected this season, 330 tons came from Cancun beaches. Playa del Carmen has been the second hardest hit with 112 tons of seaweed removed so far.
Arellano says that there are 249 workers cleaning in Othon P. Blanco, Benito Juarez, Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Solidaridad, Isla Mujeres, noting that the island has been the least affected by the seaweed.
The department of Ecology and Environment has allocated 62 million peso to those hardest hit by the seaweed to help with removal. Specialists predicted a return of the seaweed in masses for the 2018 season.
On June 7, the Barbados government declared a national emergency due to the masses of sargasso on its beaches. Puerto Rico is also facing a build up of seaweed along the coast. Even Brazil is dealing with the arrival of the unwanted seaweed.
The mass of floating sargasso, scientists say, is encircled by currents running clockwise from South America to Africa and back again.
James Franks, a marine biologist at The University of Southern Mississippi in Ocean Springs explained that from January to May, that loop breaks down and westward flows sweep Sargassum up the Brazilian coast toward the Caribbean.
“All along the way, the Sargassum is blooming and growing,” he says.
Chuanmin Hu, an oceanographer at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, says that it’s a mystery and that “Nobody has a definite answer” as to why the sudden arrival of sargasso. It’s all “educated speculation,” he added.