After many months of washing up on the beaches on the Riviera Maya, we are happy to announce that the sargassum that was such a problem during the summer months has all but gone. Despite patches here and there, the beaches are clear once again and it looks like life as usual before this smelly and annoying seaweed began invading the beaches of the Riviera Maya. Here are some facts about what we know:
Sargassum is a brown macroalgae, that is usually found in shallow water and coral reefs which got its name from Portuguese sailors, who first encountered it in the Sargasso Sea, which was named after the algae. It is made up of branches, leaves and berry-like structures which are filled with oxygen, which allows the sargasso to float on the surface of the water.
Many of the species have flexible bodies with a rough and sticky texture, which helps them to withstand strong water currents. Floating rafts of sargassum can sometimes stretch for miles across the ocean. It is considered an essential fish habitat, a refuge and a breeding ground for many sea creatures, including fish, sea turtles, crabs, shrimp. After sinking to the bottom of the seafloor it provides energy to various fish, and it provides an environment for a distinctive group of marine animals and plants. It is predominantly cold water organisms that benefit from nutrients upwelling, genus.
Sargassum contains sulphuric acid, which can rust metals, but it does have many potential uses, including fertilizer and compost, weed control, and can also be eaten. Sargassum is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to resolve heat phlegm. It is used as an herbal remedy and drunk as a tea.
While the issue of sargassum will continue to be a problem for the Riviera Maya, the immediate future is looking very good, so now is the time to enjoy the beaches that we have here and look forward to a great winter season.
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