With tourists and residents complaining of the growing number of seaweed on their shores, Mexico authorities are sending the Navy to clean up the tons of foul-smelling, rotten fauna on the Caribbean coasts.
The seaweed responsible for this is the sargassum, a brownish floating algae that hail from the Sargasso Sea in the north Atlantic. Mexican coast authorities are struggling to eliminate the vast quantities of sargassum seaweed being washed up on their shores in the last few weeks, which have been deterring tourists because of the problem.
With the start of peak tourist season only a few months away, officials are calling for an emergency meeting to fix the problem before the crisis can hugely impact the nation's tourism business.
Aside from that, the surplus of seaweed could cause harmful blooms of algae which can eliminate fish populations, foul the environment and even cause dead coastal zones.
"This has been the worst year we've seen. We need to have a regional effort because this unsightly seaweed could end up affecting the image of the Caribbean," said Christopher James, chairman of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association.
Gov. Roberto Borge said much of the removal efforts will focus on the coast from Holbox in the north to Tulum in the south. An approximate 12,300 square miles of the seaweed were discovered floating at the coast, far more than the 2,300 square miles of the plant found in 2011.
"It's in the entire tropical Atlantic. It's amazing," Professor Chuanmin Hu of the University of South Florida said
The cause of the seaweed invasion is unknown, but experts believe that it could have been caused by, climate change, changes in wind or current patterns or the high nutrient content in the ocean.
The government reassures the public that they are working hard to quell the problem as soon as possible. Naval oceanographers have been sent to track the sargassum. A hydraulic suck-pump was also deployed to help the cleaning efforts.
However, authorities are advised to be careful to prevent disturbing nesting sea turtles as well as to avoid erosion on the beaches.
"We are working on this very hard," said Rear Adm. Fernando Alfonso Angli Rodriguez, the navy's director general for oceanography. "The best way to collect sargassum is in the sea, before it sinks."
Meanwhile, authorities are also brainstorming ways to prevent the seaweed invasion from entering Caribbean shores.