CANCUN, Mexico – The hotel zone along the beaches in the Mexican resort city of Cancun experienced on Wednesday a massive influx of seaweed that motivated local authorities and volunteers to take to the beaches to help clean up the mess, authorities said.
Some 150 high school students arrived early Wednesday morning to take part in cleaning up the seaweed on Gaviota Azul beach, one of the most visited strands in Cancun near the hotel area, popular nightspots and shopping areas.
Cancun has approximately 22 kilometers (13.5 miles) of lovely white-sand beaches along Mexico’s Caribbean coast, in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo.
The government of the municipality of Benito Juarez, in which Cancun is located, reported that so far in April and May some 800 cubic meters (28,200 cubic feet) of the algae – equivalent to 120 dump trucks full – has been collected from the beaches at the popular tourist haven.
In recent weeks, the seaweed has been floating up onto beaches in Quintana Roo – including on the Riviera Maya and Tulum – but changes in the climate and ocean currents have now started bringing it to the Cancun beaches.
Experts at the Cancun Seaweed Monitoring Network, an organization formed by meteorologists and marine biologists, among others, say that the amount of seaweed will increase in the coming weeks.
Weather conditions favoring the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic also send huge islands of seaweed drifting on their way from the Caribbean Sea toward the Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located.
Gerardo Antonio Dzib Uc, a local student, said that the volunteers’ work is important so that the people who come to the beach for the sand and surf can enjoy them.
“It’s better (for us) to do it to get it done more quickly because Cancun is a tourist zone and it must always be clean and beautiful,” he said.
“We have to clean it up because if it keeps accumulating it could get to the point where the beach is full of it and nobody can go in the water,” he added.
Another student, Litzi Gonzalez Galindo, said that more of Cancun’s population should get involved in cleaning up the beaches.
“This seaweed is what cleans the ocean, it’s really not pollution. What we (put into the ocean) is pollution and it also affects tourism because it’s dirty and people can’t go in the water. We’re helping there to be more tourism in Cancun,” she said.