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TTC Special: Sargassum is another red light that warns against climate change

TTC Special: Sargassum is another red light that warns against climate change

Cancun beach. Photo: Jonathan Ross/123rf

By Frank Martin

TTC Service.- The sargassum has lit the red alert light in the Mexican tourism industry, in the Caribbean islands and also in scientific groups that are concerned with the expansion of the aftermath of climate change.

Mexican resorts like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum have been recently ataccked by foul-smelling mounds of sargassum.

According to recent studies a combination of climate change, pollution from fertilizers and ocean flows and currents carrying the algae mats to the Caribbean has caused the problem expantion.

Mexican and Caribbean tourism industtry official said arrival will be affected with the sargassum befouling white sand beaches and blue waters, as well as the air sargassum decomposes with a rotten egg smell.

The sargassum mats appear even worse along parts of Mexico’s coast than they did last year. The problem affects almost all the islands and mainland beaches in the Caribbean to an extent.

The U.S. Gulf coast got hit in 2014 and the east coast of Florida is getting sargassum this year.

The problem is linking to human activity.

Investigators said there is evidence of increased use of fertilizer and increased deforestation as possible culprits, at least as far as the Amazon is concerned.

They added that warming ocean waters are likely to play only a minor role in the sargassum expansion.

Before 2011, open-ocean Sargassum was mostly found in the Sargasso Sea, a patch of the North Atlantic enclosed by ocean currents.

That year, massive rafts of Sargassum—a brown seaweed that lives in the open ocean—washed up on beaches across the Caribbean, trapping sea turtles and filling the air with the stench of rotting eggs.

“The Caribbean is struggling to cope as yearly bouts of Sargassum become “the new normal,” said Iris Monnereau, a regional project coordinator for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Christ Church, Barbados.

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