Around 300 kilometers of beaches between Tulum and Xcalak are affected by the seaweed’s arrival, which was predicted by the Cancún sargassum monitoring network last week and began early Monday morning.
Off the coast of Xcalak – a small town near the border with Belize – aerial images show that the water is currently covered with a layer of coffee-colored foam, which makes the sea look more like a swamp.
Esteban Amaro, a marine biologist and chief of the monitoring network, told the newspaper Milenio that the large quantities of sargassum are the result of an increase of nutrients in the sea and higher than normal water temperatures due to climate change.
Amaro said that only minimal amounts of sargassum will reach coastal locations in the north of Quintana Roo such as Cancún, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen, whereas beaches between Tulum and Xcalak will continue to experience “high-intensity arrivals” of the weed.
For hotel owners, the cost of keeping beaches clean has become “unsustainable,” according to an industry leader. Some are spending as much as 900,000 pesos (US $47,000) a month to ensure that beaches meet the expectations of tourists.
He said that the arrival of the navy – which is leading the government’s anti-sargassum strategy – has provided hotel owners with some relief but added that the construction of the seaweed-collecting vessels promised by the government last week is urgent.
“There is already the federal land-maritime zone payment that hotel owners with beach [access] pay and there is also the accommodation tax . . . Why not design a new tax? I think that we would be open to it as long as there is timely management of this problem.”
Source: Milenio (sp)