Navigating The Latest Caribbean Seaweed Onslaught!
This is not a pleasant topic that’s for sure, this is not your average type of seaweed that just drifts ashore and causes no harm as you are strolling along the beach. The sargassum type of seaweed, is foul smelling and comes in rather large masses that you can’t miss.
First, what is Sargassum? Sargassum is a type of large brown seaweed or algae that floats in the ocean. The Sargassum species are typically found in the Sargasso Sea, a region in the North Atlantic Ocean. Triggered by rising ocean temperatures that facilitate seaweed growth and reproduction.
Where is it heading? According to Mexico Daily News, oceanographers from the University of South Florida have discovered a mass of sargassum in the Atlantic Ocean that could bring record levels of the seaweed to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America regions.
This particular sargassum mass is “nearly five times larger” than the mass discovered last year and could arrive as early as February and last through October 2024. This is earlier than normal which in the past has usually arrived in early Spring.
A research group, Sargassum Monitoring, said the seaweed mass could reach the northern Antilles in around three weeks before landing on beaches in the Dominican Republic in March. Then arriving on the shores of Florida and Mexico by April or May. Trying to accurately predict which beaches will be affected and to what extent is extremely difficult, as conditions change almost daily and often without notice.
One popular tourism destination is taking an initiative to stop the arrival of the stinky seaweed. Tulum is looking at a plan that includes five new anti-sargassum vessels and other equipment that uses dragnets to stop the foul substance from reaching the shore.
Mexico is reporting the beaches most affected by high concentrations of algae include Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Sian Ka’an, and certain areas between Cancun and Puerto Morelos.
What should You do? With the sargassum season starting earlier than normal and the winter travel season still underway I would strongly suggest that if you are still looking to book your winter/spring escape that you consider a destination or resort that offers a variety of things to do, so you focus less on the beach but still have a great time while away. Consider one of the Islands in the Southern Caribbean, who may see less of it. Or, Maybe its time you consider a cruise, exploring different islands and what they have to offer will keep you plenty busy and hopefully not missing the beach.
Experts are warning of high Sargassum Seaweed levels in and throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida regions, so it is best you are aware of it so you can better plan for it and not be disappointed. Many of the resorts do try to remove as much as they possibly can, but it does provide other challenges, like where to put it once it is collected!
I would just like to shout out a thank you to my travel trade magazine “Travel Pulse” for the latest update on the Sargassum story.
To travel is to explore the unique differences our world has to offer!