This year Quintana Roo will face a growth in the volume of sargassum, higher than in 2018, as it shown by the satellite images observed at the Optical Oceanography Laboratory of the University of South Florida.
The Lab analyzes satellite images on a monthly, weekly and daily basis since September 2014, when this algae made presence for the first time in the Mexican Caribbean. In 2015, an increase in volume was observed, and it kept growing during 2016 and 2017, when the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean dispersed the algae.
“Last year the sargasso problem was worse than in 2015, and it is expected that by 2019, the massive arrival of sargasso will increase in Quintana Roo”, said Rosa Rodríguez Martínez, Researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the Universidad Autónoma de México UNAM, at a conference on the effects of the massive arrival of sargassum on the reef system, during the Fifth Animal Welfare Forum held at the Ka’Yok Planetarium in Cancun.
Rosa Rodríguez Martínez, considered that this plague is one of the main threats to the economy and ecology of the Mexican Caribbean. As the number of travel cancellations, coupled with environmental problems, erosion of beaches, damage to turtle nests and the toxic gases that are released when the algae rots on the beaches, are factors that combine resulting in a serious problem.
“When sargassum is not collected from the beaches it decomposes, and different types of gases start to be produced, one of them is hydrogen sulfide, which is highly toxic,” the expert said.
The researcher of the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the UNAM clarified that when this seaweed dies and becomes dust, produces nutrients that are loaded with carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen which end in the aquifer with the rain, and then return to the sea with more nutrients causing a growth of the algae, and creating a vicious circle generating more sargassum throughout the Caribbean.
Is there any use for sargassum?
Rodríguez Martínez said that the solution to end this problem is the creation of a sargassum industry. Grind it, dry it and use it as fertilizer, cattle food and it can even be used as construction material. “And in fact it can come handy to manufacture the sleepers for the railroad tracks of Maya Train” the expert said.
TYT Newsroom with information from laverdadnoticias.com