Tulum’s Pristine Beaches Hit by the Sargassum Algae Menace

Tour experts rank Tulum as one of the best places you would visit in Mexico. The destination harbors legendary beaches, spectacular Mayan ruins, and historical cenotes. Moreover, Tulum is home to jaguars, iguanas, turtles, monkeys, and other attractive wildlife.

While the tourist destination has been flourishing for years, the Sargassum Algae Menace on its sandbanks has become a significant concern for travelers who enjoy basking on the destination’s beaches.

The Mexican government describes Sargassum as one of the biggest problems associated with pollution and climate change. It is a disaster that can cripple tourism and the local economy.

What is Sargassum Algae?

Sargassum is a brownish alga that blooms to large air-filled mats which float on water. It grows in the Sargasso Sea, an area that lies between Bermuda and the east coast of Florida. The seaweed is a habitat for eels, turtles, tuna, and other marine animals.

Hydrobiologists say that the alga has been appearing in Tulum’s shores since time immemorial. However, at that time, the currents deposited negligible amounts that were harmless and manageable.

In recent years, the amounts of Sargassum alga deposited on Tulum’s coastline have been increasing to unmanageable amounts. The hydrobiologists attribute the seaweed’s increase to fertilizer pollution, low hurricane activity, and climate change.

In 2019, the Sargasso Surveillance System alerted the Mexican authorities of impending Sargassum algae that could be deposited along its coastline.

Why is Sargassum Algae a bother to Visitors?

Decomposing Sargassum seaweed releases a disagreeable smell, and it taints Tulum’s famed turquoise waters to a less attractive brownish red color. The foul stench and dislikable color have been driving away tourists who visit the coastline to bask or roam on Tulum’s famed pristine beaches.

Apart from the offensive color and odor, the decomposing Sargassum alga forms an acidic matter that sinks to the bottom of the sea, thereby smothering sea life. Researchers say that the decomposing matter can smother coral reefs and turtles, some of the significant marine lives that make up Tulum as one of the best destinations in the world.

How do Tulum and other stakeholders manage the Sargassum algae menace?

While the vast mats of Sargassum Algae deposited on Tulum’s shores have been increasing year by year, stakeholders have implemented multiple strategies to clean up the foul-smelling seaweed.

Hotel workers have been struggling to clean up the algae mats deposited on their premises’ beach fronts. In addition to the cleaning up efforts, resorts operating in Tulum’s shores use contention netting barriers to prevent Sargassum Algae from reaching the shores.

On the other hand, researchers and other scientists have devised tracking systems which spot the algae heading to Tulum’s shores. After locating the algae, the scientists send boats to contain the algae, thereby preventing it from reaching the beaches.

Through these cleanup strategies, Tulum has managed to maintain the fame of its pristine waters. There are no or little decomposing Sargassum algae on most beaches along the Tulum coastline. Moreover, government agencies, researchers, and other stakeholders continue to establish better control strategies to contain the seaweed.