Headline — 10 July 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Sargassum nightmare threatens Mexico’s Yucatan coast

The terrible threat, the size of Jamaica, may also affect Belize’s tourism and fishing industry

BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 8, 2019– A giant mass of sargassum algae has been spotted from space by NASA satellites, heading toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula; it could spell disaster for the pristine tourist beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean coast when it hits the area this week.

The seaweed island that is about the size of Jamaica is predicted to spread as far south as Belize and could trigger an environmental disaster, scientists say.

The “sargassum stain,” as the island of seaweed has been dubbed, came about as a result of “the massive explosion of algae” which “has been caused by widespread deforestation in the Amazon and the intensive use of fertilizers which have fed nitrogen into the oceans,” the Yucatan Times reported.

“The nitrogen, coupled with warmer oceans, has boosted the seaweed’s growth. Environmentalists warn that the algae is a disaster for the area’s biodiversity,” says the Yucatan Times.

The sargassum island is said to weigh more than 200 fully loaded aircraft carriers and is more than 340 miles in diameter, and is about 620 miles east of the coast of Mexico’s State of Quintana Roo.

Dr. Chuanmin Hu, a marine scientist at the University of Florida, who has been studying the growth of the sargassum for the past 20 years, has characterized the floating island of seaweed as being “very likely to be a new normal.”

After it decays, the algae gives off a stinking smell, like rotting eggs.

In Belize, the battle with sargassum washing up on coastal areas has become a new phenomenon in recent times; the government has made no mention of the new threat posed by the floating island of seaweed, so there are no contingency plans in place to deal with this latest very serious threat.

In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has responded to the threat of the sargassum by deploying the country’s Marine Corps. Obrador, however, has come under sharp criticism because he has downplayed the issue.

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Deshawn Swasey

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