Mexico’s Tourism Industry Might Take a Hit From Smelly Seaweed That Keeps Washing up on Beaches

Jul 1, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Vacationers soon heading to Cancun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen in Mexico might be greeted with a little bit more than some tropical sun and sand. To be specific — they’re likely to see (or smell) a mass amount of rotting sargassum.

Sargassum, which are floating masses of seaweed-like algae endemic to the Caribbean Islands and some Mexican beaches, are typically characterized by their garbage-like smell and tendency to transform the water from clear to a murky, cloudy brown.

As it turns out, sargassum has been giving the Mexican tourism industry quite a lot of grief in the past few months. The country has so far funneled $17 million into removal projects for over half-million tons of sargassum seaweed from its Caribbean beaches alone. And according to a report by USA Today, the issue is likely to cause even more of a stink in the coming years.

A worker removes Sargassum seaweed from the beach near Tulum in Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on May 24, 2019. - Worried about the increase in the arrival of Sargassum at the Caribbean beaches, scientists, hotel owners and government officials are trying to find ways to get rid of it. Tons of this seaweed are upsetting tourists as locals work around the clock to remove them from the beaches. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
A worker removes Sargassum seaweed from the beach near Tulum in Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on May 24, 2019. – Worried about the increase in the arrival of Sargassum at the Caribbean beaches, scientists, hotel owners and government officials are trying to find ways to get rid of it. Tons of this seaweed is upsetting tourists as locals work around the clock to remove them from the beaches. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)

The influx of sargassum is reportedly due to seaweed moving from an area of the Atlantic off the northern coast of Brazil, by the mouth of the Amazon River. Experts believe that this connects back to deforestation or fertilizer runoff in the Amazon area, as the increased flow of nutrients could be what’s fueling the algae. However, oceanographer Donald R. Johnson insisted that the Brazilians are not to blame, and that “other causes contribute,” to the issue such as nutrient flows that stem from the Congo River.

Either way, Mexican locals — who largely depend on the tourism industry for their income — are struggling to keep the build-up of sargassum at bay. “Fighting sargassum is a chore every day,” said Cancun Mayor Mara Lezama to USA Today. “You clean the beaches in the morning, and sometimes you clean them again in the afternoon or at night, and then you have to go back and clean it again.”

Featured image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.