Puerto Morelos tries to trap sargassum, which nearly drowns a tourist

An attempt to contain sargasso in Mexico has some success. Photo: Courtesy
An attempt to contain sargasso in Mexico has some success. Photo: Courtesy

Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo — Desperate to keep their public beaches clear of the smelly seaweed-like algae called sargassum, city workers installed yellow marine barriers to pen it in.

Around 2,200 linear meters / 7,200 feet of yellow plastic barriers have separated drifting sargassum from nearly 2 kilometers / 1.25 miles of beaches, said Mayor Laura Fernandez.

“This will serve to contain and direct the sargassum to collection points that will be destined for that purpose,” she said.

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Some hotels have also privately invested in sea barriers to keep the beachfront clean. They have reported some success.

The project includes the acquisition of boats to collect the trapped sargassum in addition to two beach sweepers to gather the seaweed that escaped the barriers.

“The exponential arrival of sargassum has environmental effects and in the tourism industry, so we will not lower our guard and will include new strategies that are effective, always protecting natural resources,” the mayor of Puerto Morelos said.

The Mexican Caribbean is challenged with the largest-ever influx of sargassum. The crisis is also afflicting numerous islands and some U.S. coastal areas as well.

If this summer is like 2018, the beach areas hardest hit will be Tulum and the Mahahual area, followed by Puerto Morelos.

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Cozumel and Isla Mujeres were spared the worst of the problem.

Sargassum is not only unsightly and smelly, it can be a hazard to swimmers. A tourist nearly drowned in Playa del Carmen after being snagged by the algae, according to local media.

She was rescued by other bathers. Nothing else is known about the visitor.

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