LIFESTYLE

Seaweed surge leaves Cancún beaches covered and Mexico struggling to clean up

Tourists walk past large quantities of seaweed piling up on the beach in the Mexican resort city of Cancún, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The seaweed invasion, which appears to have hit most of the Caribbean this year, is generally considered a nuisance and has prompted some hotel cancellations from tourists but scientists consider washed-up seaweed an important part of the coastal eco-system and plays a role in beach nourishment although some scientists have also associated the large quantities of seaweed this year in the Caribbean region with higher than normal temperatures and low winds, both of which influence ocean currents, and they draw links to global climate change. (AP Photo/ Israel Leal)

Tourists walk past large quantities of seaweed piling up on the beach in the Mexican resort city of Cancún, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The seaweed invasion, which appears to have hit most of the Caribbean this year, is generally considered a nuisance and has prompted some hotel cancellations from tourists but scientists consider washed-up seaweed an important part of the coastal eco-system and plays a role in beach nourishment although some scientists have also associated the large quantities of seaweed this year in the Caribbean region with higher than normal temperatures and low winds, both of which influence ocean currents, and they draw links to global climate change. (AP Photo/ Israel Leal)

Authorities on Mexico's Caribbean coast said Monday they are redoubling efforts to remove tons of sargassum seaweed that has been washing ashore in recent weeks.

The state government of Quintana Roo, where the resort of Cancún is located, said there have been no reports of tourists cancelling visits because of the problem.

Gov. Roberto Borge said the seaweed removal efforts will focus on much of the coast, from Holbox in the north down past Tulum to the south.

Photos issued by the Cancún city government show piles of brown seaweed on some normally pristine white beaches. By last week, the city said it had raked or shoveled up 500 cubic meters of sargassum.

Borge said the cause of the invasion is still unknown, though it could be due to high levels of nutrients in ocean water or changes in ocean temperatures, currents or wind patterns.

More On This...

Authorities have to be careful, because there are two groups of visitors they don't want to disturb with overly aggressive removal efforts: nesting sea turtles that return to the Caribbean beaches to lay their eggs, and tourists.

Borge said the effort would take care not to cause erosion on the beaches, which has been a problem in Cancún in the past.

The government announced the formation of a task force of naval and environmental authorities to study the problem. Authorities are also researching ways to use or dispose of the seaweed mounds.

Sargassum is an algae that grows in the Sargasso Sea, a large body of warm water in the mid-Atlantic.

Officials in the Caribbean island of Barbados have also struggled with seaweed washing ashore, and large piles of sargassum washed up on the shore in Galveston, Texas, in 2014 after drifting into the Gulf of Mexico.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter & Instagram