I was upset when I saw the beaches in Cancun this past week. We booked our vacation over a month ago and I usually do a lot of research on the resorts before we go, and I did do some. Some. If I had known to actually do an internet search for *SEAWEED on beaches* I would have found a substantial amount of information on this seaweed invasion and we would have been more prepared for what we found and SMELLED when we arrived on that beautiful, hot, sunny day. We were NOT prepared! In case you missed that, I said the seaweed stinks, and not just metaphorically either! So if you ARE PLANNING A DESTINATION WEDDING, plan accordingly. I am going to share some pictures that we took and some stories that we heard from the locals that, if you are familiar with the clear turquoise ocean water of the Yucatán Peninsula, will shock you. I also want to emphasize that this is something that happens naturally in the ocean. This seaweed called Sargassum and it provides a natural habitat for beach critters and food for some ocean life. We may not like seeing the cloudy water and brown beaches but it will clear up, eventually, I hope. We have been over half a dozen times to the Caribbean on various beaches, this was completely unexpected. For those of you who know the area, even the beautiful island of Cozumel has been inundated with this seaweed. Here the in the USA in our own Galveston, TX the seaweed is a problem this year.
WHILE SEAWEED IS A NATURAL OCCURRENCE IN THE OCEAN,
HAVING IT ROLL IN THIS HEAVY FOR
CLOSE TO TWO YEARS IS NOT
I want to stress if you are planning a trip to the Caribbean or the Yucatán Peninsula for snorkeling you need to check with your travel agent about the level of seaweed in the area you are traveling to, even though our travel agent didn’t warn us AND we drug our snorkel gear with us… I am gong to have faith that most travel agents feel this is important to share! I do plan on writing a reviews on the resort we stayed at and the excursions we went on, I am just trying to mentally digest it all.
Every morning the maintenance crew would start clearing (possibly in the evening as well but we never saw them) the seaweed that floated in on the ocean current. Not a little seaweed, literally TONS and TONS of seaweed. At least 16” to 18” deep on the beach. Everywhere we went people were complaining about this and the smell. The men would use a large fork/rake and they would shovel it in a trailer then a New Holland tractor would take it down the beach. They couldn’t use a motorized raking method because of the protected coral. So a few men with pitch forks only made a small dent. There is no way they would ever be able to clean it all as fast as it rolled in, it was a never ending battle all day.
Later we found out that the Mexico has a Breathalyzer Law. If someone is arrested for Driving Under the Influence they are taken to jail and they have the choice to sit there or go to the beach and help remove Seaweed. Talk about rehabilitation in the heat and 60% humidity! The locals have not seen it this bad in decades and according to several of them the public beaches have it the worst because little effort is going into cleaning them up. Supposedly it is a few meters high if not higher in some spots. YES, I said METERS HIGH. This is something everyone was talking about, from the excursions we went on, the travel vans we were in, the airport, and the airplane. You could not escape the fact people were astonished at this seaweed and wanted to talk about it. Especially the ones that know what the water usually looks like.
Why has the seaweed been so bad the last two summers? The reasons vary, however, the general consensus is that ocean current has changed and the natural ebb and flow of the ocean has switched up where this seaweed is popping up. In case you are wondering, it does actually pop up! The plant itself is filled with a gassy ball inside of the plant, when the water warms up, or changes current and the plant is moved, it releases from the bottom of the ocean and the seaweed pops to the surface in these large yellow/brownish carpet looking mats. Looking out of a plane window they do look like large carpets floating across the ocean towards shore.
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SO IF YOU GOT A GREAT VACATION DEAL, NOW YOU KNOW WHY. Don’t let this bum you out though, and if you want to read about the positive effects of this seaweed click on this link. We still had a good time, we had to adjust and do other things that did not include laying around on the beach. The one time we took the kayaks out in the ocean I had seaweed in my swimming suit, and I barely got in the water so unless it was a pool I was out! Now that you have this information you will be more prepared than we were and you can plan accordingly. If you are looking for a good deal and don’t mind a lot of seaweed, now is the time to book!
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