Current sargassum (seaweed) conditions in Cancun, Mexico – Winter 2019 update

“What are the current seaweed conditions in Cancun,” you ask? Well, my friend, for the first time in what feels like forever I have the pleasure to announce that the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are FINALLY sargassum free!

That’s right; Christmas is upon us and the first gifts of this winter 2019 season are (thankfully) crystal clear water and clean white sand. Read on to get the latest news and developments on this topic.

What is sargassum seaweed and where does it come from?

We’ve talked about this at length in our previous article about seaweed in Cancun, but here’s a quick rundown:

This seaweed, otherwise known as sargasso or sargazo, is believed to come from the “Sargasso Sea” which is an area located on the North Atlantic ocean where enormous masses of sargassum naturally occur and are (usually) contained by an ocean gyre formed by 4 different sea currents.

map illustrating the location of the sargasso sea and the north atlantic gyre

The sargassum seaweed  in normal quantities is not only not bad but actually beneficial and necessary for many creatures at sea, since it offers protection for the likes of shrimp, crabs, many different fishes, and even baby loggerhead sea turtles (one of the types of sea turtles you can find in the Caribbean!).

As it usually happens with most things ocean-related (take the case of the baby whale shark, for example), there is actually very little information and studies available regarding this phenomenon. The big blue is very reserved with its secrets!

Though it is yet to be confirmed, most scientists believe that the possible causes for this massive arrival of sargassum seaweed are man-made pollution, change in water temperature and (most relevant) changes in ocean currents; this has led to a variation in the ocean gyre that usually contains this seaweed.

Another theory is that the sargassum that arrives in Cancun and the Riviera Maya doesn’t even come from the Sargasso Sea at all! Instead, it could be coming from a high-nutrient region offshore Brazil near the mouth of the Amazon, an area not previously associated with Sargassum growth.

When will the sargassum go away?

This question has a two-part answer. The first, and most simple is that as soon as the wind and surface currents in the ocean change (which happens around autumn), the arrival of this seaweed to the coasts of the Mexican Caribbean appears to be drastically diminished. There is also the theory that the Sargassum kind of dies off in the wintertime (Gower and King 2011).

We still don’t know for sure if there is a definitive correlation between the time of year and the presence of this seaweed, but the good news is that, for now, the infestation has gone away leaving the beautiful beaches of Cancun and the Riviera Maya free of Sargasso! In fact, as reported in The Yucatan Times, as of December 17, the seaweed situation in Quintana Roo is virtually nil.

tulum beach without seaweed

Now, if you’re asking how much longer the Sargasso will plague the coasts of the Atlantic, I’m afraid that nobody knows for sure. This is probably going to be the new normal at least for the next couple of years, at least while we fully understand what is happening and come up with sustainable long-term solutions.

So, is the sargassum season over?

Honestly, nobody knows for sure. So little has been confirmed from the studies done so far, that there isn’t even an official “sargassum season”. Nevertheless, thanks to reports from clients and visitors (and our own personal observations) we have identified a pattern: from April-May to August-September the sargassum infestation is at its worst in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, reaching its highest point in June.

white sand beach in cancun

So yes, although you shouldn’t quote me on this because this is mere speculation, we could indeed say sargassum season is now over and we should have various months of seaweed free, crystal clear, white sand, g o r g e o u s beaches. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at these up-to-date Cancun beach pictures, taken by travelers just like you!

Just look at that paradise! You’ll be jumping from happiness too.

girl jumping on the beach in cancunPhoto: Instagram juliawestlin

Is that a pool? Nope. Just the turquoise waters of Cancun.

Photo: Instagram carolvieiraf

No yucky seaweed to be seen for miles and miles and miles…

Photo: Instagram l337v1n337

Picture this: you, sun, sand and those fifty shades of blue. Heaven!

Photo: Instagram almiki

Is this the perfect place to enjoy life or what???

Photo: Instagram luisalfonsort

Once again, the beaches of Cancun and the Riviera Maya are the perfect backdrop for your beach wedding!

Photo: Instagram  estebanbahenaphotography

Beach weddings are not your thing? Contact us for a personalized quote on an exciting underwater wedding or a romantic boat wedding!

Shhh…can you hear that? Cancun is calling you!

Photo: Instagram  vbhandmade

And finally, here is a map of the latest sargassum distribution conditions in Cancun:

Here you can see that the Cancun Hotel Zone, Isla Mujeres, the western side of Cozumel and Tulum are FREE of sargassum. The area of Playa Mujeres, the Riviera Maya and the eastern side of Cozumel have registered extremely low quantities of sargassum. (Last updated: December 5th, 2019)

Conclusion: thankfully, the current sargassum seaweed conditions in Cancun have made it possible for the beaches to return to their original pristine state, which are now ready to receive thousands of tourists during this winter 2019 holiday season.

Are you ready to enjoy Cancun to the max?

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Safe travels y’all!