Mexico suffers from pollution of another kind. It is from rotting brown seaweed that litters the Caribbean beaches of Mexico. Municipal workers scoop up the foul-smelling litter regularly but it keeps coming back to spoil the beauty of the beaches. Authorities are trying to cope with the issue and by the time one area is cleaned, the sargassum seaweed returns to the same or an adjacent area within a few hours.

The Guardian reports that Mexico has spent millions to clear tons of the unwanted stuff and there is no sign of relief as the problem remains.

The result has a direct effect on Tourism, which is a key industry in the region. This is because the beaches of Mayan Riviera are great Travel destinations. They stretch from Cancún to the Belize border and the rotting seaweed's forcing tourists away. That is hurting the local economy.

Sargassum seaweed's necessary for the ecosystem

In the opinion of scientists, Sargassum seaweed's important to maintain the ecological balance in the region.

It floats in the water and creates habitats for not only birds but also for various marine species in the Atlantic. Scientists say it is normal to come across small amounts of seaweed scattered on the beaches and these are not harmful but beneficial. However, was noticed that during the past decade, the extent of blooming is excessive across the Caribbean. This is a matter of concern. The reasons are yet to be established but scientists feel human activities could have played some role. One of the possibilities could be rising ocean temperatures.

The Guardian also mentions some reasons for this like agricultural fertilizers and untreated sewage finding their way into the Oceans. An official in Mexico says, “Barely 30% of wastewater in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is treated.” He is a biologist attached to Mexico’s National Protected Areas Commission. The decaying seaweed gives rise to an increase in acidity of the seawater and its temperature. It also threatens the environment by reducing oxygen, which is harmful to some coral reefs, local fauna, and fish.

Mexico under attack by sargassum seaweed

According to City News, the floating mats of sargassum seaweed have seldom affected the famed beaches around Cancun in Mexico. That was until 2011, but after that, they invaded the beaches and tourism is feeling the brunt of the attack. There have been efforts to establish the cause but experts appear clueless. One line of thinking was that it originated off the northern coast of Brazil. Others say that it could also be due to nutrients flowing from the Congo River that fed the sargassum bloom.

Another suggests “upwelling of nutrient-laden ocean water and dust blowing in from Africa.” Whatever be the reason, the fact remains that Mexico must find a solution to save its tourism industry.

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