Tulum is taking action against the recurring sargassum problem plaguing its shores.
Diego Castañón, Tulum’s municipal president, recently introduced five anti-sargassum vessels, enhancing the existing fleet to combat the seaweed more effectively to safeguard Tulum’s pristine beaches. The initiative, called “Tulum Against Sargassum,” signals a hopeful turning point in addressing this seasonal tourist concern.
Historically, sargassum was only cleared once it washed up ashore. However, the increasing volume of the seaweed has necessitated a shift in strategy. This new approach focuses on prevention: diverting sargassum before it even reaches the coast. This involves installing barrier systems offshore, guiding the seaweed to currents that sweep it into the Atlantic Ocean’s depths. Specialized vessels equipped with sargassum-catching nets will also guide larger patches to these currents.
The unpredictability of the Caribbean Sea, with its aggressive waves and potent winds, especially during the hurricane season, means it will still be challenging to capture all sargassum. As a result, occasional patches might still make landfall, but they’ll be significantly fewer and easier to manage.
While these steps promise cleaner beaches, the root cause remains unresolved. The Sargasso Sea, the origin of these massive sargassum patches, continues to expand. Some U.S. researchers associate its growth with the Brazilian Amazon’s vast agricultural activities. Excessive use of synthetic and nutrient-rich fertilizers seeps into the Amazon River, eventually reaching the Sargasso Sea, nourishing the sargassum. Additionally, sewage runoff is believed to further fuel this growth.
Looking to the future, potential uses for sargassum have been proposed, including conversion into biofuel, building material, bio-fertilizer and cosmetic ingredients. These innovative solutions, along with the ongoing initiatives, mark the beginning of reducing sargassum’s negative impact on tourism in Tulum.
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