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Sargasso, a problem with creative solutions


Sargasso in Mexico.

Sargasso on the beach in Cancun
Sargasso on the beach in Cancun

The problem:

sargass, a problem with creative solutions? If you have been on holiday at Riviera Maya and we have had the twill experience, we are very sorry. The levels of sargassum have changed over the years, but have increased considerably in recent years, bringing a terrible smell and not-so-beautiful views. Luckily, you were one of the lucky ones who couldn’t experience this. Fortunately, people are finding creative solutions to this natural phenomenon.

In Mexico, the seaweed season is usually between May and October each year. If you travel to the Caribbean coast of Mexico outside of this time period, you can usually expect to avoid large algae mats on the beaches.

The search for a solution has never stopped. The sargassum has caused great unrest for locals and tourists alike. For years, the government has been encouraging students and professionals to find a way to reuse sargassum to prevent this event from becoming disastrous. Sargasso not only causes serious damage to tourism in the Caribbean, but it actually has great benefits at sea. And while Mexico is one of the most affected countries, researchers have found a way to turn it into a fertilizer, a base for cosmetics and vegan skin.

Sargasso is really very important for marine biota. Imagine a jungle in your mind, such a diverse place where there are not only trees but also a variety of animals. This is the sargassum, home and food for many fish, crustaceans, especially prawns and polychaete crabs.

In the world

This phenomenon is affecting beaches across the continent. In Miami, in the United States, they suffer the ravages of sargassum on public beaches. There are days when the sun rises much more, and there are no sargassums, when the currents come from the north, so the whole beach is cleaned.

The University of South Florida notes that last April broke the record high. There were 40 million tons of sargassum in a Florida state park. The United States is another country that is economically, socially, and environmentally affected. The twill belt is found all over the Atlantic, from Africa to Brazil and will sooner or later reach other parts of Mexico. In Quintana Roo alone, Marines have seized more than 37,000 tons of sargass, more than the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

The problems on the coast are terrible depending on the time. That’s when health problems increase due to sargassum. When sargassum begins to decompose, it releases toxins into the air that are dangerous for people to inhale. Many have suggested burning the sargassum, but it is the same result. Gas caused by fire is also toxic.

When decomposition occurs on the beaches, the water turns brown, killing everything underneath. Recent researchers are collecting sargassum from different parts of the world to see how much toxins it has and how it affects the environment.


In Mexicosargassum is already being transformed as a base fertilizer for cosmetics and vegan skin

Its potential has been observed in using a liquid extract obtained from this alga in bean crops with positive effects in measuring parameters such as growth rate.

root length, stem height, leaf size and yield increase. This is because it provides elements and minerals. Biomolecules such as metabolites, carbohydrates and vitamins allow the soil to improve its chemical, physical and biological properties.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs in the region are still looking for ways to monetize this waste. They are experimenting with seaweed products, including pet food, gas, building materials and even cocktails …

Researchers are also looking for medical or nutritional uses for sargaz.

What is certain is that the marketing of sargaz can be a tough market. Despite this, creativity is flourishing alongside algae, that’s for sure.

People cleaning the sargassum from Cancun beach
People cleaning the sargassum from Cancun beach

The solutions:

As mentioned before, some people are making building material with twill. This is the case of Omar Vazquez, a neighbor of Puerto Morelos, who invented the sargass block. He has successfully built and donated 10 houses of this material and the inhabitants have named him “Mr. Sargazo” and called them “Sargablock”. Sargablock has been patented.

Vazquez heard people complaining about the bad smell of sargassum, so he looked for a solution. At the age of 45, Mr. Vázquez built “Casa Angelita”, the first building made of Salgablocks.

On the other hand, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in cancún find a more appetizing solution. For a period of time, they served an elaborate cocktail with tequila, vinegar, sugar, rosemary and syrup from the sargaz.

In Barbados, a research team from the University of the West Indies is distilling sargass with the remains of a rum distillery to produce methane. Methane can be converted into a compressed natural gas used to drive different types of transportation on the island, including cars.



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