How is the Seaweed Problem in Cancun?

If you are planning a trip probably, you are wondering how is the seaweed problem in Cancun?

When traveling to Cancun, everybody expects to see and swim in the beautiful turquoise blue water of the Caribbean sea. During most part of the year, these breathtaking views of Cancun are still there. Unfortunately, the arrival of sargassum spikes usually during summer. But not every year is the same, and conditions change constantly, so it is impossible to predict the sargassum situation on a specific date.

How is the seaweed problem in Cancun?

Why is there seaweed in Cancun?

Seaweed is a brown-smelly type of algae that arrives every year on the white sandy Caribbean coasts. In recent years the arrival of sargassum has worsened, and scientists believe that climate change and the pollution of the seas is causing this phenomenon. 

In small amounts, Sargassum is a food source for sea animals like turtles. Some crabs lay their eggs on areas full of this algae.

Sea turtle eating sargassum in Cancun

But, massive arrivals generate environmental problems such as the accumulation of decomposing organic matter on the beaches and coastal erosion. The abundant brown seaweed floating on the ocean avoids the sunlight reaching the sea plants that produce oxygen, which causes the death of all the organisms that inhabit the affected zones. It also causes the acidification of waters and the increase of water temperature. Consequently, the coverage of marine grasses and living coral has decreased, producing a loss of beach and coastal protection.

Why is the arrival of sargassum increasing?

Sadly, this phenomenon has human action behind: the increase in the temperature of the ocean surface due to climate change, which favors its reproduction; changes in ocean currents due to the melting of the poles and glaciers, which affect the arrival of more sargassum; wastewater discharges into the seas; and the use of agrochemicals in agriculture, which carry nutrients for these organisms.

It is also speculated that they are linked to the increase in temperature and the influx of nutrients by rivers in Africa and Brazil, as well as upwelling and dust from the Sahara desert.

What is being done about the sargassum problem in Cancun?

Mexican Navy has bought some sargassum vessels and barriers, but they have cost a lot of money, that is why they have decided to build them in the country to save money. They are planning to build 12. They announced that the first ones would be ready in a couple of months. The SEMAR said that the sargassum vessels they designed and built have already been approved and provided positive results.

Vessels cleaning the sargassum in Cancun

Hotels also invest a lot of money to clean the beaches. Hotels staff and volunteers work together to solve the problem. They clean the beaches during the night and part of the day. They do a lot, but sometimes vast amounts of sargassum continue to arrive at the beaches during the day.

Hotels staff and volunteers cleaning the sargassum in Cancun beach

 All of us have to raise awareness and take care of the planet.

It is important to mention that some companies are interested in harvesting the seaweed for alternative purposes like the elaboration of paper, biodegradable food containers and plates. If authorities clear the legal aspects of this collaboration, this could bring hope for this problematic situation.

When can I find the Cancun beaches free of sargassum?

Given how quickly the conditions can change, it is impossible to predict when, where and how much sargassum will arrive. There are good days and bad days.

However, from June to August is the season when seaweed tends to arrive at our beaches in larger amounts. But not every year is the same, and sometimes you can find sargassum during winter too.  

Usually, some areas in Isla Mujeres and the Northside of Quintana Roo State are less affected than the South.

But you can still enjoy some of the beautiful beaches thanks to the work of the wonderful Mexican people! 

Playa delfines, Cancun Hotel Zone

How can I check the sargassum situation near my resort in Cancun?

We recommend you follow official social media accounts or websites from the local authorities. They provide information about the sargassum situation daily. Unfortunately, this information is in Spanish, but they always use graphic elements that are easy to read. GREEN means free of sargassum or a little sargassum, YELLOW means moderate, ORANGE means abundant, and RED means excessive sargassum in the area.



Example of the Daily Report on the Presence of Sargassum in Quintana Roo. This information changes daily.


There is also a non-governmental organization Facebook that share a report on the situation of the sargassum in the area on Facebook:

RED DE MONITOREO DEL SARGAZO ( Sargassum Monitoring Network):

This is an example of @RedSargazo sargassum reports. This information changes daily. BLUE- without sargassum / RED-excessive sargassum.

Another way to check this is by joining Facebook groups such as Cancun Addicts or Sargasso Seaweed Updates Riviera Maya or other travel forums and ask travelers about the current situation.

And remember…“One day in Cancun will always be better than a day at work.”

So, enjoy it! There are a lot more fun things to do in Cancun and Riviera Maya… zip lines, ATVs, Mayan ruins, cenotes, theme parks, water slides, snorkel, nightclubs, spas, and much more!

best tours and things to do in cancun and riviera maya