These days vacationers see bigger concentration of seaweed on the shores of Tulum than usual. We investigate the origins of this phenomenon.


 
 
Many vacationers are asking us about seaweed in Tulum situation - why is there more seaweed on the white sand shores of Tulum this year than usual? Is it a normal occurrence and how long is it supposed to last? We are even being asked if the open-ocean algae is safe for humans.
 
First things first - ocean seaweed is a totally natural, safe and even a necessary gift from the ocean. Why is there more of it in Tulum this year? We investigated and drew some conclusions from various sources.
 
IS OCEAN SEAWEED FOUND IN TULUM ONLY?
 
No, the seaweed is found is massive amounts this year all along the eastern coast of the U.S. as well as the Caribbean, and all along the beaches of the Riviera Maya, including Cancun and Playa del Carmen, so it’s not only Tulum that has been affected.
 
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
 
The open-ocean algae is called sargasso as it comes from Sargasso Sea in the middle of North Atlantic Ocean that has millions of kilometers-long algae concentration. It’s the only sea in the world without a coastline. The water in the Sargasso Sea is remarkable for its deep blue color and exceptional clarity, with underwater visibility of up to 200 feet (61 m). The Sargasso Sea is home to Sargassum seaweed, which floats on the surface in huge amounts. The larvae of eel use the Sargasso Sea to hatch and then grown eels return to lay eggs. Young Loggerhead sea turtles also travel to the Sargasso Sea to hide from predators in the algae until they mature. Sadly, the algae of the Sargasso Sea also accumulates a high concentration of non-biodegradable plastic waste that is brought to the sea by surface currents. This plastic waste is later washed to the shores around the Atlantic together with seaweed. Numerous ocean protection programs are being currently implemented to protect and clean the oceans from the plastic waste.
 
WHAT IS THE NATURAL PURPOSE OF SEAWEED?
 
Seaweed from the Sargasso Sea provides shelter and habitat to many animals. Turtles use sargassum mats as nurseries for food and shelter. Seaweed also provides habitat for marine species such as shrimp, crab and fish. The Sargasso Sea’s algae is a spawning site for endangered eels, as well as white marlin, porbeagle shark, and dolphinfish. Humpback whales annually migrate through the Sargasso Sea. Tuna fish and many birds also migrate through the Sargasso Sea and depend on it for food.  On the beach, the algae serves as fodder for crabs, beetles and other small creatures, which in turn are food for shorebirds. The seaweed line is also important for collecting sand blown by the wind and encouraging plants, which help hold dunes in place to protect property.
 
WHY DOES SEAWEED SOMETIMES EXPLODE ON THE SHORES OF TULUM AND OTHER BEACHFRONT AREAS?
 
A similar widespread explosive growth of ocean algae clogged up the shorelines of Eastern USA, Mexico and Caribbean in 2011. According to USA Today, "sustained winds combined with seasonal shifts in the Gulf Stream probably are responsible for the sudden abundance on local beaches.” Another explanation for this year’s unusually big concentration of algae is climate change. Eventually, the beaches clear up, and in the same way as algae appeared, it disappears.
 
ARE THERE MORE BENEFITS OR DRAWBACKS?
 
"Cocoa Beach Public Works Director Bob Torres said that while unsightly and smelly for a few days, the benefits outweigh any drawbacks,” explains USA Today article. "Generally, nature brings it in and nature brings it back out, too.”
 
So generally speaking, seaweed is a good thing. It is a a part of the constant balance to be environmentally responsible and still accommodate vacationers.
 
Have questions or comments? Looking for an update of the current seaweed situation in Tulum? Contact us at info@rivieramayapropertyconsultants.com.
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