Excessive amounts of seaweed have been washing up on the beaches of Puerto Morelos in recent weeks and owners have even complimented Grand Residences staff for their attempts to try and keep the beach clean. This phenomenon was first reported in the summer of 2014 along the Riviera Maya coast, Cancun and other areas of the Mexican Caribbean and has occurred again recently. It is expected to die down in the next couple of weeks.
Seaweed washing up on area beaches occurs naturally and varies from season to season and according to the weather. Storms and ocean currents dislodge and transport seaweed great distances depositing it on the shoreline. Warmer water temperatures in the summer can also cause excessive algae growth known as blooms. However, such huge amounts of seaweed washing up on the coast had not been seen before.
We contacted the National Autonomous University of Mexico Marine Research Field Station in Puerto Morelos to see if staff could spread some light on this and they gave us the following information. We would like to thank Marine Biologist Rosa Rodriguez for sharing it.
This phenomenon is not confined to the Quintana Roo coast, reports of huge amounts of seaweed coming ashore are occurring throughout the Caribbean. Marine biologists do not know yet whether this invasion is a one-off event and if so what caused it or whether it will prove to be cyclical.
Initially, marine biologists in the Mexican Caribbean thought that the seaweed was local and was proliferating due to an increase in nutrients in the water or that ocean currents were bringing it south from the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean. Yet, they now believe it originates on the coast of South America.
Unfortunately, heavy machinery cannot be used to remove seaweed from the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean as diggers would also pick up too much sand thus causing erosion. The only solution at present is to continue to clean the beaches manually. The Puerto Morelos Marine Park authorities are investigating viable alternatives that would not contribute to coastal erosion or affect the marine creatures that live and feed on the seaweed.