“Although the beaches of Yucatan are not facing the same degree of affectation suffered by those of Quintana Roo with the arrival of sargassum, the reproduction of this organism should be considered a national emergency”, said Alberto Jesús Ríos Flores, Pharmaceutical Biotechnologist.
The specialist warned that regardless of the effects on the tourism sector, the arrival of sargassum to the coasts of the peninsula would affect the reproduction of sea turtles that migrate to these Mexican beaches to nest, because they can not cross the sargasso barrier to spawn in the sand.
“And in the case that the adult female turtles are able to get to the beaches, the offspring will not be able to reach the sea because of the large amount of macro algae that they would have cross.”
The expert said that among the problems caused by these macroalgae is that they consume all the oxygen that is found in the sea and therefore the fish that are below the sargassum begin to die.
To the list of negative consequences, the affectations to the flora and fauna of the reef systems are added, which in the Caribbean represents the second largest in the world, since sargassum releases phosphorus, nitrogen and heavy metals, which deteriorate the quality of the sea water and cause profound damages in the marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs.
Therefore, the issue of sargassum should be considered a national emergency, because the atypical growth of this macroalgae is totally abnormal and it is favored by the change of temperature and the increase of water nutrients, said Rios Flores.
“Although the presence of sargassum on the beaches of Yucatan is minimal, that doesn’t mean that the state will aoways be excempt of this situation” he added.
The expert explained that the change of temperature in the seas and the drainage of sewage in the Mexican Caribbean are, among others, some of the factors that affect the arrival and increase of sargassum to Mexican beaches.
“An oversight has been reported in the discharge of sewage in affected areas and these have the nutrients that macroalgae need to grow and proliferate,” he said.
The Pharmaceutical Biotechnologist also recalled that the natural origin of the genus Sargassum, is found in the region known as the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic.
“Now it has been discovered that it comes from the South Atlantic between the coasts of Brazil and Africa, which migrates by marine currents to the Mexican Caribbean and, what has been detected is that, according to the change in temperature and the amount of nutrients present in that area, the mass of seaweed has expanded exponentially “.
He recalled that the growth of sargassum on Caribbean beaches and the Yucatan Peninsula was notorious since 2015, and by 2018, 522,000 tons were collected on the coasts and the figure is expected to increase significantly in 2019.
The Yucatan Times Newsroom