If you have visited the Riviera Maya recently and went for a morning walk along the beach you might have seen the piles of sargassum littering the sand. Sargassum is a type of free-floating seaweed. Over the past several years, there have been a number of seasons with extraordinary levels of sargassum washing up on the beaches all throughout the Caribbean. This phenomenon has been baffling locals, tourists and experts alike around the world. Luckily, scientists, experts and environmentalists in the Riviera Maya have been trying to find solutions to the problem. One of them was netting the ocean with biodegradable barriers that would stop the sargassum.
It’s not new…but it’s not pretty
Large blooms of sargassum have been occurring since time immemorial. But it has only been since 2011 that this problem has turned into a crisis. This seaweed reproduces on the surface of the water, unlike other types which plant themselves in the sand. Areas of unusually warm ocean water, as well as pollution, cause increased nitrogen levels. This results in massive blooms. Sargassum is able to rapidly reproduce as it travels through the ocean to the beaches of the Riviera Maya.
The excessive amounts of seaweed can cause a variety of issues, from the inconvenience of unsightly appearance and sulfuric smell, to its potential to cause respiratory distress in those with asthma. The Riviera Maya has been hit hard, with just the first half of 2018 dumping 717 tons of seaweed on Mexican beaches. Of those, 117 tons have been collected just in Playa del Carmen. Luckily, Playa del Carmen has been home to a few initiatives to try and help curb the problem.
The community is tackling the problem
Every morning, there are numerous workers in boats and on the shores cleaning up the seaweed. There are also six other projects currently under evaluation by the authorities that look to help mitigate this issue. While specifics on the current projects are not yet available, we do know that at least three of them incorporate natural protections and coastal development, increasing their scope from collection to larger preventative measures. Only one project will be chosen for 2019.
Last year, a man in Puerto Morels took the initiative to do something with the collection of sargassum. He transformed sargassum into organic, thermal and functional bricks. With them, he built the first ever sargassum home. This became a milestone that everyone applauded. It is being reproduced in larger scales aiming to build homes for the poor communities of Yucatan, as well as schools and offices.
In mid-December, a Danish company called Desmi ran a pilot project that included the installation of a barrier that is intended to control the seaweed along Quintana Roo beaches. The barrier is named the Desmi Sea Turtle and, so far, results have been positive.
Locals also often organize beach cleanups, too. Groups of volunteers will go to the beach and spend the morning raking and cleaning up seaweed that has washed up on the shores. As the planet continues to get warmer, these problems will continue happening. That is why it’s more important than ever to do our best to live green and help keep our planet healthy.
Sargassum isn’t a blame problem, and we are all the solution
Remember, this isn’t a “Riviera Maya problem” nor “Mexico deficiently taking care of the beaches”. In fact, this is a global issue that climate change has caused in our oceans. You can be part of the solution by thinking of using green energies, sustainable construction and eco-friendly approaches to your lifestyle.
If you’re planning on living your greenest, most sustainable life, you should consider doing so in the Caribbean. As Mexico strives to become more and more sustainable, more developments that are considering smart and green construction are popping up. Contact our Buyer’s Representatives and they will help you find your dream home…without harming the environment in the process!
And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…we make it happen!