With their palm tree-fringed stretches of golden sand meeting clear blue sea, the beaches of Caribbean Mexico are known for being postcard-pretty. But now, in the spring and summer, the Yucatán coastline between Cancún and Tulum is clogged with mountains of seaweed, fouling the beach with a sulfurous scent of decay and making the water nearly unswimmable.
This macroalgae is called sargassum, and it’s causing trouble in paradise.
The algae’s growth is cyclical and even beneficial in normal amounts. Usually the seaweed blooms and stays out in the ocean, providing a floating habitat for fish, shrimp, eels, turtles, and